The number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow in countries outside of China. According to the newest data from the JHU Coronavirus Resource Center, the global confirmed cases have passed 1.98M, and cases from the US have passed 600K, with Spain the second-highest at 174K cases.
Though China has begun to relax measures to control the pandemic in the country, the government is still taking prevention and checks seriously. On April 14, China reported 10 confirmed cases and 54 asymptomatic cases, the highest case number over the past two weeks.
Among the top stories in China’s esports industry: the Guangzhou government released five goals for developing esports business in the region; Kappa and Chinese team organization Royal Never Give-Up unveiled their first co-brand apparel; Lucky Future (LF) closed down its Warcraft III division due to lack of funding during the pandemic; and Chinese game developer Drodo Studios released its PC version of Auto Chess.
Every week The Esports Observer presents the biggest esports business news in China including investments, acquisitions, sponsorships, and other major news from the region.
Guangzhou Releases ‘Five 1s’ City Esports Development Goal
On April 10, the Guangzhou Municipality hosted an official press conference, and discussed how the city will fully support its video game, comics, and esports industries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For esports, Yunfan Lin, the president of the Guangzhou Esports Industry Association, said the city will approach a “Five 1s” esports plan, as the goal to build up the city as an important place in the global esports industry.
“In 2020, Guangzhou will have a world-wide esports team, an esports industrial business conference, an esports event along with the city culture, an esports technology innovation platform, and a diversity esports industry chain,” said Yunfan.
This could be regarded as a positive message from China; that the country has put the esports industry in a position of importance during the pandemic. In February Beijing and the Shanghai Municipality also mentioned the esports industry during their official press conference, which was focused on the COVID-19 pandemic. The two cities will fully support the Honor of Kings World Champion Cup in Beijing and the League of Legends World Championship 2020 in Shanghai, respectively.
In August 2019, the Guangzhou government announced a three-year esports plan for the city in partnership with Tencent Esports. As a city looking to develop its esports industry, Guangzhou currently has an Honor of Kings team TTG.XQ, and Overwatch League team Guangzhou Charge. The two esports teams both have placed their home venue in Guangzhou.
Kappa and Royal Never Give-Up Dota 2 Squad Unveil Co-Brand T-Shirt
On April 12, Italian apparel brand Kappa and Chinese esports organization Royal Never Give-Up’s (RNG) Dota 2 team unveiled their co-brand t-shirt, which has been sold online at Kappa’s T-Mall store.
The t-shirt features RNG’s black and golden color scheme, with an RNG logo at the front and a Kappa logo on the back. Kappa’s logos are also featured on the left chest and right shoulder.
In January, Kappa became the title sponsor of RNG’s Dota 2 team, replacing the previous apparel partner Li-Ning. At the time of writing, the team has five sponsors, including Kappa, Laoshan Beer, smartphone brand Hongmo, Logitech, and China Citic Bank’s credit card service.
Lucky Future Closes Down Warcraft III Division due to COVID-19 Pandemic
On April 13, Russian Warcraft III player Dmitrii “Happy” Kostin posted a personal announcement on Twitter, stating that he has not been paid his salary and prize money from Chinese esports organization Lucky Future (LF) for three months.
Later that day, LF announced that the organization had decided to close its Warcraft III division, and made a public apology to Kostin, and promised to pay the rest of the unpaid salary and prize money of all previous Warcraft III players before May 30.
According to the announcement, the main reason cited was the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization has a lack of funding of more than ¥1M RMB ($140K USD), and LF claims that its owner has personally paid employee’s salaries amounting to about ¥400K ($57K).
LF competes in Hearthstone, Overwatch, Apex Legends, and Fortnite. The parent company of LF is Hong Kong Lucky Future Entertainment Media, Ltd. Though many Chinese companies have restarted their business and resumed work, the live entertainment industries such as traditional sports, cinema and film, and music concerts remain closed.
LF is not alone in shutting down teams during this global pandemic; for example, on April 12 North American team Team SoloMid (TSM) announced that it had closed its PUBG and Rocket League divisions.
Other Esports Business News:
- On April 14, Chinese game developer Drodo Studios announced that the PC version of its auto-battler game Auto Chess will be officially listed on the Epic Store on April 29.
- On April 13, Overwatch League team Hangzhou Spark announced that it decided to cancel its home venue event in June, due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Chinese livestreaming platform DouYu signed a long-term partnership with UK-based esports organization Method.
- On April 9, Chinese online video platform Bilibili announced that it will receive a $400M investment from Sony subsidiary Sony Corporation America.
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