China Esports Blast: October
Welcome to the very first edition of the Mailman China Esports Blast!
October was one of the busiest months in the esports calendar, with two Chinese teams reaching the highest stage of the League of Legends and Dota 2 scene. The reaction to EDG winning the Worlds in China reached new levels with fans celebrating their national pride.
The business of esports continued to evolve and develop, including new investments, sponsorships, and collaborations. Every month, we will share the biggest stories from China with our own take.
1. EDG Partners with Red Bull and Microsoft Surface Before EDG won the Worlds, the team signed two major sponsorship deals with Red Bull and Microsoft Surface. Red Bull and EDG will build an “Athletes Performance Center” to boost training for players, whilst for Microsoft, EDG will help to promote its new Surface Pro 8 and Surface Go 3 product lines.
Mailman Take: These two sponsorship deals would now likely come at a much higher price for Red Bull and Surface given EDG’s champion status, but all sides will be happy with the sponsorship. The timing of the Microsoft deal was also significant with the deal announced ahead of China’s Single’s Day shopping festival which will have a significant boost on their sales.
2. EDG Founder Rewards Worlds 2021 Winners with Real Estate in Guangzhou Before the grand final, EDG founder Edward Zhu made a promise that he would give every EDG League of Legends player a house or apartment in Guangzhou worth over ￥1M ($156K) if they won the Championship. In addition, EDG partner TCL, a Chinese electronics company announced that it will give every player multiple home appliances worth ￥70K ($11K) and an extra ￥3 million ($470K) bonus for the team.
Mailman Take: Ten years ago, even the top professional esports players could not make a decent living in the industry. Low salaries and basic living conditions were common in the China professional scene, let alone the public perception of working in the industry. It’s refreshing to see progress with those at the top being rewarded for their dedication and performance.
3. FPX Partners with Marvel Another big partnership between LPL team FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) and Marvel Entertainment with a focus on co-branded apparel, merchandise, supplies, esports-focused gaming peripherals related to FPX, and Marvel’s lineup of superheroes.
Mailman Take: FPX is one of the best Chinese esports teams with high commercial value and a wider non-endemic sponsor lineup including BMW, OPPO, PUMA, Nongfu Spring and Oishi. We’re excited to see how this partnership is activated, especially with crossovers into Marvel’s superhero lineup and potentially even future box office movies. We expect to see FPX continue to attract new global and regional sponsors with this Marvel Entertainment deal providing a viable route in the movie world for their players.
4. Tencent to Shut Down Fortnite Server
There was also heartbreaking news for Chinese Fortnite players when on the last day of October, Tencent, the second-largest shareholder (40%) of Epic Games and the Chinese distributor of Fortnite, announced that the company would close the Chinese server for the game on November 15.
Mailman Take: While there was no official reason for the closure, many sources revealed it was due to not receiving game approval from the government. This has been a limiting factor on many new games’ entry to China with no licenses handed out since July. For every published game in China, it has to have game government approval, otherwise, game publishers cannot monetize the game. This now officially ends Fortnite’s expansion into China that never really got going. Tencent can now focus on Peacekeeper Elite and PUBG Mobile in this mobile gaming space.
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