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- Riot Games has revealed that the finals for its next World Championships will be held in the Shanghai Stadium.
- The 56,000 seat, multi-purpose venue is primarily used for Chinese Super League and international soccer matches.
- The tournament last came to China in 2018, concluding at Beijing National Stadium.
Following the conclusion of this year’s League of Legends World Championships, publisher Riot Games has revealed that next year’s finals will take place in Shanghai Stadium. The multi-purpose venue is primarily used for national and international soccer matches, and can seat over 56,000.
This will be the first time the event has returned to China since 2017. That year, the finals filled over 44,000 seats in Beijing’s national stadium (a.k.a. the “Birds Nest”). “Our sport is the number three sport in China across all demographics,” John Needham, global head of esports for Riot Games, told The Esports Observer.
Locations for the group and playoff stages have not yet been revealed. China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL) is unique among the 13 regional competitions, in that several teams play out of their own home stadiums, rather than just the central studio. Needham said the company is still undecided if it will use these venues for the tournament.
“We have five cities across China that can host the LPL matches themselves,” he said. “We’ll expand that next year to six. We’re going to expand the league from 16 to 18 teams, as well. It would be natural to leverage some of that infrastructure, but we’re still working out those plans.”
Over the past year, the Shanghai government has rolled out a number of initiatives designed to grow its local esports market, including a player licensing system, standards for esports venue construction, and over $700M USD in central government funding to support the region.
Riot Games is entirely owned by Chinese conglomerate Tencent Holdings. The two companies established their own esports joint venture this year, TJ Sports, to handle tournament organization, talent management, and venues for League of Legends esports in the country.
“Naturally, League of Legends and the LPL are lifestyle brands now in China,” said Needham. “We have more viewers than we have players in China at this point. The sport has grown beyond the game.”
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