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Last week was probably the most significant week for the Chinese esports industry this summer. Not only because of Esports organization OG winning Dota 2’s The International (TI) 2019 at Shanghai Mercedes-Benz Arena (earning $15.5M USD of the $34M prize money and becoming the only organization to win the TI championship for two consecutive years), but also because it highlighted that China has directly faced a lack of regional authority and regulations, exposing the dark side of Chinese Dota 2 ecosystem.
Among the top stories: Newbee and Vici Gaming alleged cheating and improper poaching by Dota 2 professional teams is common; Tencent Esports partnered with China Unicom to set up a 5G Esports Lab; esports organization eStarPro landed in the city of Wuhan with multiple partnerships signed; Tencent unveiled a new streamer verification system; and ESL announced the $250K Intel Extreme Masters competition in Beijing Haidian District.
Every week The Esports Observer presents the biggest esports business news in China, including investments, acquisitions, sponsorships, and other major news from the region.
Chinese Esports Teams Alledge Cheating and Poaching in Dota 2
Last week may have been one of the toughest weeks for China’s Dota 2 community. Not only did fans have to deal with inflated prices due to TI ticket scalping, but many were not satisfied with the results, in which Chinese teams PSG.LGD finished in third place, and Vici Gaming paralleling fifth-sixth place with Evil Geniuses.
On August 27, two days after TI concluded, Tong “CU” Xin, the CEO of esports organization Newbee, posted a statement on social media Weibo claiming that several Chinese teams were trying to poach Newbee’s players, in a manner that falls outside the game’s competitive rules. In addition, Xin said that match-fixing (i.e. using online betting sites and then intentionally losing) was common in the Dota 2 ecosystem. Chen “Qc” Qing, a board member of Vici Gaming, also posted that Royal Never Give-Up (RNG) was improperly contacting its players during TI. RNG later clarified that it was a misunderstanding, and Qing subsequently deleted his statement.
In fact, these accusations of improper poaching exist not only between Chinese teams: John Yao, the CEO of European esports organization Team Secret, which won fourth place at TI, told The Esports Observer that RNG tried to have conversations directly with contracted players instead of talking to management last year:
“I was not happy,” said Yao. “They think [they] can try to steal our player[s], but the players know this type of behavior is wrong, and the players will actually tell us.”
Player trading between teams is widely common in traditional sports and esports, and is becoming increasingly regulated in the latter. For example, in Chinese League of Legends, TJ Sports has the authority to regulate these trades within the League of Legends ecosystem.
According to an article written by People Esports, an esports division of Chinese news publication China Daily, Valve held a meeting during TI with all team players, and discussed whether teams should disband so that players can freely establish their own teams. This proposal was protested by all team owners. A source close to the teams present at this meeting also confirmed this with The Esports Observer.
Tencent Esports Partners with China Unicom to Set up 5G Esports Lab
On August 27, Tencent Esports signed a partnership deal with Chinese communications company China Unicom to co-build a 5G Esports Lab in Chengdu. According to the announcement, Tencent and China Unicom will do research on how 5G technology could invent “innovative applications” that help support esports.
On June 20, Tencent Esports established an esports-dedicated technology union with China Unicom, Intel, Qualcomm, Nvidia, Tencent Cloud, Razer, and Yesee Tech at the Tencent Annual Esports Summit. On August 17, Tencent first applied “5G SA Internet” technology on its Honor of Kings Henan grand final. Hou Miao, managing director of Tencent Esports, spoke at the summit. He claimed that 5G could give tournament productions more speed and internet bandwidth, which could lead to an overall better viewing experience.
eStarPro Names Wuhan HQ, Signs Multiple Partnerships with Local Companies
On August 23, Chinese esports organization eStarPro held a press conference at the Hankou Shangri-La hotel to officially announce that the organization will be headquartered in Wuhan. The announcement was made alongside Wuhan vice mayor Chen Xiexin and Zhang Yijia, general manager of Tencent’s mobile esports division. During the press event, Yijia announced that the King Pro League Fall Spite Final will be held in Wuhan.
In addition, eStarPro revealed that it had signed multiple partnership deals with local Wuhan companies including esports hardware company NINGMEI, local bank Hankou Bank, and car-hailing brand Dongfeng Travel. One of the partnerships was a mascot deal with Wuhan Baiji Dolphin Conservation Foundation in order to raise awareness on the importance of protecting animals. eStarPro’s home venue mascot will be the Yangtze finless porpoise, which is the symbol of Wuhan and also under “first class state protection.”
Sun “xiaOt” Liwei, founder of eStarPro and a former Warcraft III professional player, stated during the press conference: “It is a significant moment for eStarPro and mobile esports in China. We will have our own home venue in Wuhan, and it is actually the first offline home venue for mobile esports.”
Other Esports Business News:
- On August 22, Tencent unveiled its streamer verification system in order to normalize the streaming content in legal ways and also offer official support and benefits to streamers through DouYu, Huya and Penguin Esports. The first target group will be the streamers who feature League of Legends, Honor of Kings, Peacekeeper Elite, and QQ Speed.
- On August 23, the Korean King Pro League (KRKPL) announced that the Korean Honor of Kings team KING-ZONE DragonX (KZ) had officially rebranded to DragonX Busan (DRX). Sources told The Esports Observer that Chinese esports company KING-ZONE was recently facing financial problems.
- On August 22, ESL and Intel announced that the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) will come to China’s capital Beijing Haidian District in November with a $250K total prize pool. Team Liquid and Astralis have already been invited to this event.
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