Last week several high-profile non-endemic partnerships surfaced in the League of Legends esports scene, as did a controversial call for evidence from banned Dota 2 team, Newbee.
In addition, the $600K USD League of Legends Mid-Season Cup (LPL vs LCK) concluded, with Chinese teams TOP Esports (TES) and FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) meeting in the grand final. TES won the tournament and took home $240K in prize money, while FPX took $120K.
The LPL has rebranded with a new logo. However, one of the league’s most iconic players will not be joining next season, or any other. Jian “Uzi” Zihao, the sixth-ever player of the LPL (LPL0006), has announced his retirement, finishing his journey as a professional League of Legends player on account of longstanding injuries and health issues.
Zihao is one of the most influential esports players in China. In terms of personal branding, he is the first esports player to partner with global sportswear brand Nike, and is also the exclusive esports partner of Chinese alcohol brand Harbin Brewery.
Among the other top stories: Newbee has hired counsel, who has sent a legal inquiry for evidence of match-fixing; FunPlus Phoenix renewed its partnership with Chinese restaurant brand Fish Cool; Bilibili Gaming partnered with South Korean fashion brand Gentle Monster; and esports organization Royal Never Give-Up sued a former PUBG player, and is claiming ¥50M ($7M) in damages.
Newbee Dissatisfied With Match-Fixing Judgement, Demands Legal Evidence
On May 28, Chinese esports organization Newbee announced that the team was dissatisfied with the match-fixing judgment from the Chinese Dota 2 Association (CDA). Newbee believed that the actions of the CDA damaged its team reputation and brand. It has issued a legal request to the CDA, asking the association to provide related evidence of match-fixing.
According to the announcement, Newbee’s players were threatened during the investigation and coerced into implicating themselves in match-fixing allegations.
After Newbee’s announcement, the CDA denied all accusations from the organization. CDA has not provided evidence publicly but stated that the association has provided its findings to Dota 2 Chinese distributor Perfect World, and developer Valve. As a result, CDA upheld its judgment of May 15, which gave five Newbee Dota 2 players life-long bans, and removed Newbee as one of the founding members of the CDA.
This match-fixing incident came to light on May 15. At the time of writing, both organizations confirmed that Newbee’s team manager Feng “Feng” Yiqin was involved in match-fixing. Questions still remain in the Chinese Dota 2 community whether the CDA had the right to ban an original member and its players permanently.
The Esports Observer will continue to monitor this situation.
FunPlus Phoenix Extends a Five-Year Partnership Deal With Chinese Restaurant Fish Cool
On June 2, Chinese esports organization FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) announced that it renewed its partnership deal with Chinese restaurant brand Fish Cool with a five-year deal.
The Esports Observer reached out to Chun Li, the CEO of FPX, who offered the following:
“FPX is looking to become a world-class esports organization,” said Chun. “…the culinary culture is vital in [the] contemporary youth generation. The partnership between FPX and Fish Cool is also a perfect combination of online business [esports] and offline culinary business.”
In 2019, FPX won the League of Legends World Championship in Paris. The organization also currently competes in League of Legends, Peacekeeper Elite, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. FPX is one of five esports team brands partnered with German automaker BMW, and has ongoing partnerships with OPPO, Bixin, Huya, Legion, and Oishi.
Bilibili Gaming Partners With South Korean Fashion Brand Gentle Monster
On June 2, Chinese esports organization Bilibili Gaming (BLG) announced that it signed a non-endemic partnership deal with South Korean fashion brand Gentle Monster (GM).
A source close to BLG told The Esports Observer that the GM logo will be featured on BLG’s team jersey. In addition, BLG players will wear GM’s smart glasses during the LPL Summer Split event, as well as sunglasses provided by the company (sunglasses and smart glasses are the core products of GM).
Bilibili (Nasdaq: BILI), the parent company of BLG, owns the Overwatch League team Hangzhou Spark, and secured exclusive livestreaming rights for three years for the League of Legends World Championship in China for ¥800M ($113M) in November of 2019.
Other Esports Business News
- On June 1, TJ Sports revealed a rebrand for the LPL. According to the announcement, the rebranded logo represents the “aggressive playstyle” and “brave and fearless” nature of the Chinese league.
- On June 1, livestreaming platform Penguin Esports signed a streaming deal with League of Legends team SDX.
- On June 2, according to Chinese publication The Paper, Chinese esports organization Royal Never Give Up (RNG) sued its former PUBG player Zuo”Xiaodingdang” Zixuann, asking Zixuan to pay a ¥50M ($7M) penalty. The reason behind this dispute: Zixuan streamed on Douyu, even though RNG signed him to stream only on rival streaming platform Huya.
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