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Last week, The Esports Observer concluded 2019’s Top 10 China Esports Business Stories. Now, the esports industry in China has embraced a new year, which has already brought in new sponsorships and partnerships, as well as the first team-penalty issued by TJ Sports. In addition, esports organization QGhappy won the Honor of Kings Winter Cup Finals in Guangzhou.
Among the top stories of last week: CCTV named FunPlus Phoenix’s League of Legends players as one of China’s successful sports teams of 2019; TJ Sports fined esports organization JD Gaming $50K USD for an improper player contract; Alibaba Sports moved its World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) APAC Grand Finals to Macao from Kuala Lumpur; European esports organization Fnatic opened a social media account on Kuaishou; and LGD Gaming shut down its Overwatch division.
Every week The Esports Observer presents the biggest esports business news in China including investments, acquisitions, sponsorships, and other major news from the region.
CCTV Nominates FPX as One of China’s Annual Sports Teams
On Dec. 31, China Central Television (CCTV) named FunPlus Phoenix’s League of Legends team as one of China’s nine most successful sports teams/individuals in 2019. The other nominees included China’s women’s national volleyball team, former NBA Chinese player Jianlian Yi, and teams/individuals from badminton, figure skating, diving, short track speed skating, swimming, and ping pong.
This is a positive beginning of the year, signaling the Chinese mainstream’s acceptance of esports as a normal sport. FPX’s League of Legends team were World Champions in its game last year, and the second in a row to win the trophy for China.
TJ Sports Fines JD Gaming $50K for Offering Improper Player Contract
On Jan. 3, TJ Sports issued its first penalty of 2020, fining ￥350K RMB ($50K) to League of Legends Pro League (LPL) team JingDong Gaming (JDG) for offering an improper player contract. It should be noted that the deal was not signed between the player and JDG. JDG is owned by Chinese e-commerce company JingDong.
“JDG offered a five-year contract to South Korean League of Legends player Seo “Kanavi” Jin-hyeok, which violated the LPL player rule—the maximum duration of player contract[s] is three years,” TJ Sports stated in its announcement. “Although JDG and the player have not officially signed the contract, the behavior of offering improper player contracts has still seriously violated the rules of the LPL.”
Alibaba Sports Moves WESG APAC Grand Finals to Macao from Kuala Lumpur
On Dec. 28, tournament organizer Alibaba Sports, the sports branch of Alibaba Group, announced that the World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) APAC Grand Finals will be relocated to Macau from Kuala Lumpur. The competition dates have also been delayed to Feb. 16-18.
According to the announcement, the reason behind the change is the local tournament partner, Hong Kong Esports International Limited Group, was “not able to reach the capability of Alibaba Sports’ tournament standard.”
Global third-party tournaments such as WESG and World Cyber Games (WCG) have to face multiple challenges and issues. In November of 2019, Ukrainian esports organization Windigo Gaming disbanded and claimed that one of the main reasons was not getting paid $500K WESG prize money owed by Alibaba Sports. Alibaba Sports later clarified that the company faced challenges in multi-bank transactions, and would pay players prize money as soon as possible (More challenges and issues of hosting a third-party tournament are detailed here).
Other Esports Business News:
- On Dec. 31, Chinese esports organization LGD Gaming announced that it had shut down operation of its Overwatch division. The Overwatch team has also disbanded. Specific reasons were not disclosed.
- On Jan. 3, Spanish sports company YouFirst Sports signed a partnership deal with Chinese esports agency RYFT aiming to expand its business in the Chinese esports market by establishing an esports joint venture.
- On Jan. 7, European esports organization Fnatic opened its Kuaishou social media account. Further details were not available at the time of writing.
- On Jan. 4, South Korean esports organization Gen.G Esports announced that the company plans to bring its League of Legends team to Shanghai and train with LPL teams in preparation for the upcoming LCK Spring Split.
- On Jan.1, Italian apparel brand Kappa signed a sponsorship deal with Chinese esports organization Royal Never Give-Up’s (RNG) Dota 2 team. In addition, RNG revealed that the organization will move its League of Legends home venue to Shanghai from Beijing.
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