While last week featured several key dates for China’s esports industry, the country is currently in a state of apprehension. The League of Legends Pro League Spring Split has started, and next week will include China’s Spring Festival (also known as Chinese New Year). However, a new strain of coronavirus emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and has affected the region’s entertainment industry, including esports.
Wuhan-based streaming company Douyu told The Esports Observer that the company has closed its offices for the Chinese New Year, and will forego certain public events as a precaution related to concerns about the coronavirus. Esports team organization eStar is also based in Wuhan.
Among the top esports stories: the Chinese government reported a 500K esports talent gap, with only 50K actual professionals in the industry; TJ Sports updated the rules and increased prize money for the League of Legends Pro League in 2020; Gaming social networking app Bixin showcased esports organization FunPlus Phoenix in New York’s Time Square; and Nike Shanghai created a social media campaign with LPL official host Yushuang “Candice” Duan.
Every week The Esports Observer presents the biggest esports business news in China including investments, acquisitions, sponsorships, and other major news from the region.
Government Hosts Esports Profession Skill Conference in Beijing, Reports Talent Gap
On Jan. 17, the Chinese Culture Management Association hosted the “China Esports Player Profession Skill Conference” in Beijing. According to publication China News, the conference invited experts and executives from esports companies to discuss how to identify which players should be recognized as “China esports professionals.”
The goal of this discussion is to create a professional standard for esports players, and provide further governmental certification. On Jan. 13, China confirmed three esports professions: esports professional, esports team manager, and esports tournament operator.
In addition, the topic of esports education was discussed during the conference due to a lack of esports professionals and education programs in the country. According to the conference report by China News and People’s Daily, the country recognized a talent gap of 500K people, with only 50K actual professionals. This follows a report from state-run China Central Television (CCTV) in August of 2019 that a talent gap of 1M people existed in the country’s esports industry.
LPL Updates Rules for 2020, Increases Prize Money for Champion and Runner-Up
On Jan. 19, TJ Sports released a regulation update for the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) for 2020. According to the announcement, the prize money for the LPL Spring and Summer Splits has increased by ¥700K RMB ($100K USD) each. The championship-winning team will now receive ¥2M ($290K) compared to ¥1.5M ($217K) in 2019. For the runner-up, the prize has gone from ¥800K ($115K) in 2019 to ¥1M ($150K) this year.
In addition, LPL teams can sign a maximum of four coaches, and will be allowed to have two coaches on stage for the “Pick and Ban” phase. For new players, as long as they have been showcased on stage of the League of Legends Development League (LDL) and Demacia Cup, they can qualify for a LPL official roster.
On Jan. 10, TJ Sports announced the commercial partnership list for the LPL 2020 Spring Split, including head partner Mercedes-Benz; strategic partners Nike, Chinese diary brand Momchilovtsi, and Harbin Brewery; official partners KFC, CLEAR, Chinese drink brand Wahaha, energy drink brand Warhorse, OPPO, and SPD Bank credit card; and equipment partners HP OMEN, gaming chair brand AutoFull, and Intel.
FunPlus Phoenix Showcased in Times Square by Sponsor Bixin
On Jan. 19, New York’s Times Square showcased Chinese esports organization FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) on the Nasdaq screen, alongside its sponsor Bixin. According to the announcement by FPX, this advertisement was operated by Bixin to warm up the LPL Spring Season for FPX.
FPX is the winner of the 2019 League of Legends World Championship. Bixin is the largest Chinese social networking application for gamers, owned by Shanghai Yupaopao Information Technology Ltd. Also known as a “game companion” app, it allows players to pay others for play sessions. The application has sponsored multiple influential Chinese esports organizations, including Royal Never Give-Up, Invictus Gaming, and FPX.
Other Esports Business News
- On Jan. 21, global sportswear brand Nike’s Shanghai subsidiary made a social media campaign with Yushuang “Candice” Duan, the official host of LPL. The Esports Observer interviewed last year (you can read the interview here).
- On Jan. 20, esports organization Gen.G Esports revealed the name and branding for its NBA 2K League franchise: The Tigers of Shanghai. The team is the first competitor based outside of North America, and also the first not tied to an existing NBA franchise.
- On Jan. 20, Chinese livestreaming platform Huya signed a partnership deal with Riot Games to become the exclusive broadcast partner of the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) and League of Legends European Championship (LEC) in China for 2020. Huya is now the only platform in China that broadcasts all four major leagues, including LPL, LEC, LCS, and League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK).
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