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Last week, virtually every Chinese esport organization, professional and fan was preparing to celebrate China’s 70th National Day, on Oct. 1. Due to the holiday, Chinese esports business news has slowed, but there were still few partnerships announced, primarily related to the new CrossFire franchised league, which is being run by Tencent Esports.
Among the top stories: Tencent Esports announces 10 esports teams for its CrossFire franchised league, and two teams with CrossFire divisions signed partnership deals with Chinese livestreaming company Huya; Chinese esports organization FunPlus Phoenix signed a sponsorship deal with Chinese chip brand Oishi; and World University Cyber Games signed a partnership deal with travel company Tong Cheng.
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 Esports Announces 10 Teams for CrossFire Franchise League
On Sept. 29, Tencent Esports hosted a CrossFire franchise league ceremony in Shenzhen, China, announcing ten esports teams that will compete in its CrossFire Pro League (CFPL) on PC, and CrossFire Mobile League (CFML). Teams that signed on to the new league included All Gamers (AG), Edward Gaming (EDG), eStar, Kong Zone (KZ), LGD.REC, Suning Gaming, Qingjiu Club, Baisha Esports, Team WE, and Super Vallant (SV). During the ceremony, Tencent Esports announced that the CFPL and CFML will be in conjunction with Chinese tournament organizer Versus Programming Network (VSPN), which Tencent Holdings owns a stake in.
In addition, Tencent Esports announced that the company will establish a CrossFire youth academy system, in order to provide fresh player talent for CFPL and CFML. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology will also be applied in the CrossFire game system in order to improve player performance and training.
On Sept. 27, Baisha Esports, one of the ten teams in the CrossFire franchise system, has officially rebranded its team logo to be “more professional” to attend the franchise league. This is according to Ma “AyoM” Li, one of the investors of Baisha Esports, as stated on Chinese social media Weibo.
Tencent first announced its franchise plans for CrossFire at its Tencent Global Esports Summit in June, and started the bidding process for slots. As Tencent’s top first-person shooter (FPS) game franchise league in China, the slots have attracted multiple esports organizations. Sources close to the league told The Esports Observer that the minimum franchise fee for a slot is ¥10M RMB ($1.41M USD).
On the same day, Chinese esports organization LGD Gaming announced that the company partnered with North American esports organization Reciprocity Corp., setting up a joint esports team called LGD.REC to compete in the CFPL and CFML. According to Chad Larsson, CEO of Reciprocity Corp., the company paid $1.5M to join the CFPL. In comparison, the franchise slot fee for Overwatch League is around $30M-60M.
A new franchise league also means new partnership opportunities. On Sept. 29, Chinese livestreaming platform Huya attained the exclusive streaming rights for King Zone’s CrossFire division and Super Vallant’s CFML team. Both teams will start streaming on Huya on Oct. 7. It should be noted that SV’s CFPL team already signed a streaming deal with another Chinese livestreaming platform, Douyu.
FunPlus Phoenix Signs Sponsorship Deal with Oishi
Chinese potato chip brand Oishi signed a sponsorship deal with esports organization FunPlus Phoenix (FPX). Oishi is one of four sponsors of FPX, which won the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) Summer Split and will attend the League of Legends World Championship as the LPL first seed. Financial terms of the deal were not undisclosed.
FPX was funded in 2017 by Silicon Valley-based gaming company FunPlus. The esports division FPX is currently competing in League of Legends and PUBG. Alongside Oishi, FPX is sponsored by livestreaming platform Huya, social media Bixin, and Chinese restaurant brand Cool Fish.
WUCG Partners with Travel Site Tong Cheng
The World University Cyber Games (WUCG) has signed a partnership deal with travel booking site Tong Cheng. The deal includes providing travel plans and benefits for university players and fans who attend WUCG events. Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The WUCG is a global esports tournament series for university students. The tournament features competitions in Dota 2, League of Legends, Honor of Kings, Hearthstone, and The King of Fighters 14, and currently has SPD Bank and Chinese sanitary brand Space7 as sponsors.
Other Esports Business News:
- On Oct. 2, Taiwanese esports organization J Team announced a partnership deal with betting operator Mr. Cat, with details of the deal undisclosed. J Team will compete in the League of Legends World Championship group stage in Berlin as one of the teams from the League Master Series (LMS). J Team is owned by entertainment star Jay Chou.
- On Sept. 30, Riot Games announced a multi-year global partnership with Chinese phone brand OPPO, covering the League of Legends World Championship, Mid-Season Invitational, and All-Star events. It should be noted that China’s LPL is sponsored by another phone brand, Hongmo.
- On Sept. 26, WorldGaming Network (WGN) announced that it will host the $230K North American Regional Finals for the World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) 2019-2020 competition. WESG is owned by Chinese sports company Alibaba Sports, a sporting division of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.
- On Sept. 27, esports organization Gen.G Esports announced that it will establish a Shanghai-based team in the NBA 2K League, making it the first league franchise outside of North America and also the first team not to be associated with an NBA franchise.
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