Last week was significant in China’s esports industry, not only because it experienced its first League of Legends Pro League (LPL) Final with no live audience due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but also the two teams – JingDong Gaming (JDG) and TOP ESPORTS (TES), brought commercial value to China’s brands and capital. Eventually, JDG defeated TES, becoming the ninth team to win the LPL Silver Dragon trophy.
The number of global COVID-19 confirmed cases is still growing and just passed 3.68M at the time of writing. Compared to last week, the U.S. increased by 200K confirmed cases, and reached 1.2M, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.
Dota 2 developer Valve had announced that The International (TI10), the biggest esports prize money tournament, had been delayed, and will “likely” be moved to 2021. Last year, The International (TI9) was hosted in the Shanghai Mercedes-Benz Arena, and had over $34M prize pool money.
Among the top stories in China’s esports industry: Chinese e-commerce platform JingDong’s esports organization JingDong Gaming (JDG) won the LPL Spring Split Final, and celebrated at the online store with multiple hardware products sold at 50% off; DouYu renewed its streaming deal with T1 Entertainment & Sports, and signed new ones with esports organization OMG and TES mid-laner Yu “Jackylove” Wenbo; and esports production company ImbaTV signed an exclusive partnership deal for China with hardware brand VAXEE.
In South Korean business news, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, the League of Legends player and part-owner of esports organization T1 Entertainment & Sports, signed an endorsement deal with South Korean sweets brand Lotte Confectionery, and will be featured on Lotte’s ice cream brand – the Worldcone.
LPL Spring Split Final Brings Value to China’s Capital
Normally, The Esports Observer focuses on the business side of the esports industry, and does not report the team’s winning. However, the LPL Spring Split Final was not only the competition between two teams – JDG and TES, but also the two large Chinese corporations – TOP Sports and JingDong.
TOP Sports, the parent company of TES, is the biggest sportswear agent in China for Nike and Adidas. JingDong, one of the biggest e-commerce platforms in China, is the parent company of JDG.
Before the LPL Final, TES and JDG did multiple social media campaigns on Weibo, inviting sports and entertainment celebrities, including Barcelona Football Club’s player Gerard Pique.
During the LPL playoffs, with every victory of TES, TOP Sports provided two Air Jordan shoes, and drew a lottery activity for fans on social media Weibo. For its part, JingDong provided multiple esports hardware products for fans on Weibo.
After JDG won the trophy, JingDong released an “up to 50%” off activity on its esports online store, that ran from May 2-5. Customers could not only buy PCs, headsets, or other hardware products, but also JDG’s team jersey, beer, and League of Legends merchandise.
JDG is the ninth champion in LPL history. Compared with the previous champions like Royal Never Give-Up (RNG), Edward Gaming (EDG), and FunPlus Phoenix (FPX), the e-commerce platform JD can better take advantage of this winning to monetize the internet traffic from esports fans. Of the 17 LPL teams, JDG is not alone, as Suning Esports (SN) is also owned by e-commerce platform Suning.
JDG was founded in 2017, and currently has nine sponsors including Intel, Logitech, DouYu, Langsdom, BOSE, headset brand Edifier, plug brand Bull, and hardware brand Colorful.
The business operations behind this final were intense just like the best-of-five matches. It has also proven that esports has real commercial value for China’s capital, and created a milestone in China’s esports history.
DouYu Renews Streaming Deal With T1, Signs New Deals With OMG and Yu ‘Jackylove’ Wenbo
On April 27, Chinese streaming platform DouYu announced that the company renewed its streaming deal with South Korean esports organization T1 Entertainment & Sports (T1). Six T1 League of Legends players, including Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok will continue to stream on DouYu.
On May 1st, DoYu announced that the company signed a streaming deal with Chinese esports organization OMG. All five OMG League of Legends players will stream on DouYu starting on May 10.
After the LPL Spring Split Final, DouYu announced that it had signed an exclusive streaming deal with TES League of Legends player Yu “Jakcylove” Wenbo, and led a massive discussion on Chinese League of Legends community, due to Wenbo winning the 2018 League of Legends World Championship with IG, and Huya being the livestreaming sponsor of TES.
Sources close to TES told The Esports Observer that Wenbo has held on to his streaming rights since he left his previous team Invictus Gaming (IG). “Wenbo even has his own agent,” said a source.
This is not the first case that a conflict between a team’s livestreaming sponsor and player’s streaming platform has occurred. Huya is the sponsor of FunPlus Phoenix (FPX), but FPX player Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang streams on DouYu.
Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok to Endorse Worldcone Ice Cream
There was another partnership concerning T1: On April 29, South Korean sweet brand Lotte Confectionery unveiled its ice cream product Worldcone, featuring Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, the League of Legends player and part-owner of T1.
According to the poster, Sang-hyeok endorses three flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and apple. According to Talkesport, Lott chose Sang-hyeok, in a bid to reach the younger generation.
Other Esports Business News:
- On May 1, Chinese production company ImbaTV announced that it signed an exclusive partnership deal with hardware brand VAEXX, becoming the only partner of the company in mainland China. More details of this partnership were not disclosed.
- On April 30, Chinese esports organization Royal Never Give-Up (RNG) signed a partnership deal with charity Shanghai Youth Volunteer (SYV). Last week, FPX also signed a partnership deal with the charity.
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