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For people who love sports, last week was a rough beginning for 2020. On the one side, NBA legend Kobe Bryant passed away at age 41; this was heartbreaking news in China as many esports fans share a love of basketball. Meanwhile, China braced itself for a difficult Chinese New Year (CNY) due to the new coronavirus outbreak.
At the time of writing, China has locked down the city of Wuhan and confirmed over six thousand infection cases in the country. The State Council has extended the CNY holiday to Feb. 2, and urged everyone to stay at home and not to organize and attend public events. With China’s 1.4B population, this situation will leave a lasting impact on the country’s economy, as well as the world.
For China’s esports industry, multiple tournaments have been delayed to a date yet-to-be-determined, and many Chinese esports organizations closed business operations during this period. Fortunately, there have been signs of unity: game publishers Tencent and NetEase, streaming platforms Douyu and Huya, as well as esports organizations Team Aster and Team Liquid collectively offered millions of RMB to support the city of Wuhan as it overcomes the outbreak.
Every week The Esports Observer presents the biggest esports business news in China including investments, acquisitions, sponsorships, and other major news from the region.
LPL, WESG APEC Grand Final, CrossFire Pro League Grand Final, and More Delayed due to Coronavirus
Last week, multiple tournament organizers decided to delay their events due to the coronavirus outbreak.
On Jan. 22, Alibaba Sports announced it would cancel the World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) APAC Grand Final in Macau this February. On Jan. 26, Tencent announced that the company would delay the grand final of CrossFire Professional League (CFPL) and CrossFire Mobile League (CFML) in Kunming on Feb. 29. The rescheduled dates of these competitions have yet to be announced, and will be based on how the coronavirus situation develops.
On the same day, TJ Sports also announced that the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) Spring Split would postpone its second week, as would the beginning of the League of Legends Development League (LDL).
According to the announcements from Tencent and TJ Sports, these decisions are to avoid gathering massive crowds, thus minimizing virus transmission, and ensure the health and safety of fans, players, and workers.
In addition, Joseph “Munchables” Fenny, caster for the English LPL broadcast, confirmed on his Twitter that the LPL English caster crew has returned to their own countries due to the virus outbreak.
This situation is not isolated to China’s esports industry. According to a statement from Inven Global, Riot Games Korea has decided that the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) Spring Split will be played without a live audience due to the coronavirus. Meanwhile, sales of new tickets have been postponed, and the Jan. 30 media day for the LCK has been canceled. The LCK Spring Split will start on Feb. 5. At the time of writing, four cases of infection have been confirmed in South Korea.
Esports-Related Companies Support Wuhan and Other Chinese Cities to Fight Coronavirus
To fight the coronavirus outbreak, game publishers, livestreaming platforms, and esports organizations donated money and medical masks for people living in Wuhan. Game publisher Tencent announced it would donate ¥300M RMB ($43.5M USD) to support related medical organizations in Wuhan. Game publisher NetEase would invest ¥100M ($14.5M) to establish the exclusive coronavirus foundation. The company would also donate millions of RMB worth of medical equipment to Wuhan and other city hospitals.
Wuhan-based livestreaming platform DouYu donated ¥10M ($1.45M) to the Wuhan Charity Association, while livestreaming platform Huya donated ¥7M ($1M), as well as an additional ¥3M ($430K) to the Guangzhou Charity Association. According to the announcement, the donations will be used to buy medical masks, protection suits, and disinfectants.
Chinese esports organization Team Aster also donated ¥200K ($29K) to the Wuhan Charity Association, and North American esports organization Team Liquid donated thousands of RMB. LPL professional player Zihao “Uzi” Jian, who was born in the city of Yichang, Hubei, paid for 20K medical masks to be sent to the Yichang Hospital.
Other Esports Business News:
- On Jan. 23, Chinese tournament organizer ImbaTV announced that the company and Ukraine organizer StarLadder will co-host the StarLadder ImbaTV (SLI) Dota 2 Minor at Kiev’s Cybersport Arena from March 5-8. The tournament will feature $300K prize money and 660 Dota Pro Circuit points, and the winner will qualify for the ESL Los Angeles Major.
- On Jan. 24, esports organization Invictus Gaming created its official account on Kuaishou, a video sharing app that the organization is partnered with. According to the announcement, the organization will post more exclusive videos in the future.
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