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The Chinese esports industry is still heavily affected by the coronavirus outbreak. There are small signs of it’s slow recovery, with a few partnerships announced last week. For any Chinese industry, the coronavirus has been both a disaster and a test. Compared with traditional sports, the esports industry has the capability to move online and cut losses, and this was exactly the decision Tencent made last week for several of its esports.
In addition, during the ESL One Los Angeles Dota 2 Major Chinese open qualifier, a Chinese female Dota 2 player, Xia “Axx” Bi, and her team Blaze, eliminated PSG.LGD, and qualified for the ESL One Los Angeles Chinese Qualifier. Though she and her team didn’t ultimately qualify for Los Angeles, Xia has become the first female Dota 2 player in the world to compete for a Major qualifier in the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) system. This is also the third Major after 2019 The International Shanghai that PSG.LGD will not compete in.
Xia is not the first female Dota 2 player to compete at a Valve event. In 2017, Dota 2 player Marielle “Layla” Louise and her team competed in the Kiev Major North American open qualifier. After The International 2017, Valve applied its DPC system to Dota 2 esports.
Every week The Esports Observer presents the biggest esports business news in China including investments, acquisitions, sponsorships, and other major news from the region.
Tencent Takes Honor of Kings Competitions Online Due to Coronavirus Outbreak
On Feb. 18 Tencent Esports announced that the top two Honor of Kings competitions – China’s King Pro League (KPL) Spring Split and international tournament KPL Global Tour (KPLGT) Spring Split – will not be played in a studio. Instead, both competitions will move fully online due to the coronavirus outbreak. According to the announcement, the decision was made to avoid gathering massive crowds, and ensure the health and safety of fans, players, and related staff. The actual open dates of the tournament will be announced soon.
Sources close to KPL told The Esports Observer that every KPL player has to play from their respective team locations (e.g. a training house or office), rather than their own home, in order to maintain a high competitive level.
“For Wuhan-based KPL team eStar.Pro and several KPL players from Wuhan/Hubei, the KPL Union will discuss the situation with the team and the players,” the source said, “But still, safety and health are the top priority.”
However, many challenges still remain. For example, how will Tencent be able to guarantee fairness of the competition without referees, and keep the competition within a stable internet environment? While online-esports leagues are commonplace in Europe, the sheer size of China and varying internet capabilities (depending on the province) makes playing esports matches remotely a risky move from a competition standpoint.
At the beginning of 2020, Tencent released its esports plan for Honor of Kings esports and expected to fully push the game to become the first mobile esports with home venues for teams.
The coronavirus has had a significant negative effect on the sports industry, with all sports events either delayed or canceled. While sports leagues, teams, and other stakeholders are heavily suffering from lost sponsorship value and audiences, the Chinese esports industry has found a way to cut its loss, even though it has to face multiple challenges. (Siqi “PJ” Wang, Esports Journalist of People Esports, contributed information to this story. )
TJ Sports Will Stream Team-Scrim Competitions for League of Legends Pro League Audiences
On Feb. 19, TJ Sports announced that the company will stream the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) team-scrim competitions on Feb. 26, on the official channel of the league. According to the announcement, the decision was made by TJ Sports and agreed upon by all LPL teams.
Since these competitions will not take place in a professional environment, players can use their own equipment. Though TJ Sports also claimed that internet delay or other special circumstances may occur during the competitions, the company and teams will try to ensure the stream continues to run.
It should be noted that in the graphic of the announcement, it still features the brands of official LPL commercial partners and sponsors, including Mercedes-Benz, Nike, and KFC.
This decision is considered to not only generate some LPL competitive content for audiences, but also to protect the sponsorship value. Ever since TJ Sports postponed the start of the LPL, the league has been posting a video series called “LPL TOP 100 Classic Matches” online for the League of Legends esports community.
G-Rex Gaming Quits Pacific Championship Series Before Machi Esports Joins
On Feb. 13, Taiwanese esports organization G-Rex Gaming announced that its League of Legends team had decided to quit the Pacific Championship Series (PCS) due to “the pressure and impact of the uncertain economic environment.”
On Feb. 19, Taiwanese esports organization Machi Esports announced that it will join PCS as the 10th team in the league. The organization was founded in 2014, and was an official team in the League of Legends Master Series (LMS). The team sold its LMS slot to Alpha Esports in 2018.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the PCS will be delayed to start on Feb. 29.
Gen.G Esports Donates 100 Percent of Homestand Proceeds to Coronavirus Charities
— Seoul Dynasty ???? (@SeoulDynasty) February 19, 2020
Arnold Hur, COO of Gen.G Esports, announced via Twitter that Gen.G and Seoul Dynasty will donate 100% of its earnings from its March Overwatch League Homestand, merchandise sales from both organizations, as well as in-game skins sales from Seoul Dynasty beginning today until the end of March. The money will go to charities that support victims of the coronavirus.
He also expressed gratitude to all of its fans that showed concern for players, coaches, and staff in Asia.
Other Esports Business News:
- On Feb. 15, Chinese esports organization Royal Never Give-Up (RNG) signed a partnership deal with State-owned company China Electronics Corporation (CEC), one of the largest producers of telecom equipment in China. The two have established a joint esports company called 中电创智 (Translated in English: China Electronics Chuangzhi). According to the announcement, the company will provide esports related content, including industry news, esports venue, and tournament operations.
- On Feb. 13, esports events and production company ESL announced that Chinese CS:GO team Vici Gaming (VG) will not be able to attend the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2020, due to visa issues created by the coronavirus situation. VG will be replaced by another Chinese CS:GO team, Tyloo.
- On Feb. 16, Ukrainian tournament organizer Weplay! announced that the Chinese esports organization RNG will not attend the $300K USD Weplay! Dota 2 Tug of War: Mad Moon in Kiev. RNG’s spot will be replaced by Ukrainian Dota 2 team B8.
- On Feb. 17, the Chinese Dota 2 team EHOME signed a streaming deal with Huya, and three players will stream on the platform. EHOME Dota 2 team currently has qualified for ESL One Los Angeles Major.
- On Feb. 19, North American esports organization Cloud 9 opened its Chinese social media account Weibo. Jack Etienne, the CEO of Cloud 9, was featured in the first video post from the organization.
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