• Denis Green

China Sports Business Weekly | 27th August


Here are the very latest news and insights from the past week in China.


📰 Headlines: League of Legends Worlds moved from China to Europe, UFC prepares China’s Olympics at its Shanghai Performance Institute, Migu wins Ligue 1 rights to complete big 5, Kelme supports AFC national team competitions, and China’s policy for winning medals at Beijing 2022.


🗣️ In this week’s From The Top, Felix Falkenberg, Sport Science & Performance Manager at UFC China, talks about training Chinese Olympians, what they focus on, similarities & differences compared to MMA athletes, and feedback been from the Olympians themselves.

🗞️ Top Industry News League of Legends Worlds Moved from China to Europe The 2021 League of Legends World Championship has been moved from China to a currently undisclosed location in Europe, just weeks before the competition is set to begin. Travel restrictions and COVID protocols made it a challenge to hold the event in China. Read more on The Verge (English) and Xinhuanet (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: A disappointing announcement for China's esports community and the five host cities. It's also a missed opportunity for international teams that would have had the perfect platform to grow their brand, build their community and even attract new partners during the five-week event across China.


UFC Performance Institute Shanghai Prepares China’s Olympians Chinese Winter Olympic snowboarders Liu Jiayu and Cai Xuetong are just a couple of Olympians that have been trained and tested as part of their preparations for competing in the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. The UFC’s state-of-the-art Performance Institute (PI) in Shanghai also trained 14 of the medal winners at Tokyo 2020. Read more on Beijing News (Chinese) 💡 Mailman Take: The UFC’s PI investment is reaping serious rewards. Other global sports organisations should take note of just how beneficial this has been, and will continue to be, for the UFC in China and Asia-wide. Migu Wins Ligue 1 Exclusive Rights to Complete Big 5 The final piece of the European football jigsaw for Migu, as it lands exclusive new media rights to a league boasting Messi, Neymar, and Mbappé. The three-year deal will see the league exclusively on Migu, however, as we’ve seen with many other sports recently, it may be sublicensed. Read more on SportBusiness (English) and Ecosports (Chinese) Kelme Becomes Official Global Supporter of AFC National Team Competitions The sportswear brand and ball supplier’s deal includes providing the official match ball for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023. The deal also covers the 2021 to 2024 rights cycle and will see Kelme provide sports apparel and accessories for the AFC’s national team competitions, including the Qatar 2022 qualifiers and the Asian Cup 2023 in China. Read more on AFC (English) and Ifeng (Chinese)

MLB China Partners with FIRST Film Festival, Targets Youth Audiences Major League Baseball’s (MLB) partnership is aimed at inspiring young and creative audiences to create their own emotional & heartfelt baseball stories. Tough Out did exactly this, reaching the mass market while inspiring youth to try out baseball. Read more on Toutiao (Chinese)

LPGA Tour Cancels Shanghai Tournament The event, scheduled for October 14-17 at the Qizhong Garden Golf Club, did not take place last year because of health concerns and travel restrictions amid the pandemic. The two remaining events in the LPGA's four-stop Asia swing are scheduled for October 21-24 in Busan, South Korea, and November 4-7 in Otsu, Japan. Read more on Reuters (English) and Sina (Chinese)

🎮 Esports Tencent Restarts Gaming Site Following Huya-Douyu Merger Collapse After the regulatory authorities stopped the merger, the plan related to Tencent’s eGame also ran aground. Tencent re-established its eGame Center this time, showing its obvious intention to revive its own game streaming site. Read more on Bloomberg (English) and Ifeng (Chinese)

🤔 Opinion Anta Versus Adidas: Will the Chinese Sportswear Brand Win? Anta is on track to overtake adidas to become the second most valuable sports company in the world after Nike. Jing Daily looks at Anta’s playbook for staying on top and whether global brands can still dominate China’s sportswear scene. Read more on Jing Daily (English) China Applying Industrial Policy to Winning Gold at the Winter Olympics

China in 2019 had more than 3.3K athletes training in the national team compared with 300 who trained for Pyeongchang in 2018. This sharp increase is likely due to the national support winter sports has been receiving in recent years. Read more on Quartz (English) Nike vs. ERKE: Two Sportswear Brands Trending on Weibo for Totally Different Reasons Domestic sportswear company Erke has recently become a top-selling brand in China, whereas Nike has seemingly lost some of its reputation in the Chinese market. This week’s trending Weibo topics relating to the companies are telling of the ongoing battle between domestic and international sportswear brands in China. Read more on What’s on Weibo (English)

🗞️ Other News China’s After-School Crackdown Wipes Out Many Jobs Overnight The crackdown on after-school tutoring businesses adds pressure to China’s already competitive job market, particularly for the 9M graduates this year. Seven after-school tutoring companies, mostly listed in the U.S., had a total of more than 250K full-time and contract employees prior to this summer. Many laid off workers might only get a month or two of pay, if they were not forced to resign on their own. Read more on CNN (English) and Sohu (Chinese)


📢 From The Top 🗣 ️ Felix Falkenberg, Sport Science & Performance Manager, UFC China.


1. How is the UFC Performance Institute Shanghai helping Chinese Olympians prepare for the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics?


We are currently doing a training camp for the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) Snowboarders, Liu Jia Yu & Cai Xue Tong. The UFC Performance Institute (PI) is holding the non-technical strength and conditioning programming for them to be ready for their World Cup Competitions prior to the Beijing Winter Olympics. Our programming is designed to get them ready for those competitions regarding strength, power and energy system demands.


2. Which disciplines are you training, how often, and why was the PI chosen by the Chinese Olympic Committee?


We’ve had a wide variety of COC teams in the UFC PI: Wrestling, Judo, Sailing, Windsurfing, Speed Skating, Snowboarding, Track Cycling, Road Cycling, Swimming, Race Walking, etc. The camps were all different durations. Some stayed for multiple training cycles (i.e. 1-2 months). Some stay for only 3 weeks. We always focus on non-technical strength and conditioning.


3. What have been your learnings so far from training Olympians, and what similarities & differences do you notice compared to MMA athletes?


It’s been amazing having such high-level Olympic athletes in the building. And we learn new things each time we have different sports in the UFC PI. We conduct a very thorough sport analysis using the most recent scientific literature to ensure that the training we provide is cutting-edge. Our communication with the head coaches and support staff is always very interesting as we learn from them as well as educating them in the systems that we apply with our MMA athletes.


Depending on which sports are at the PI, the similarities and differences change. For example, with the combat sport team such as judo & wrestling, we were able to have crossover sessions and each side was able to learn and implement new techniques and methods. Other sports such as windsurfing have very different demands, however, we’re able to take our MMA data-driven systems approach and apply it to their sports.


4. What has the feedback been from the Olympians themselves, have they been able to train in facilities such as the PI before?


The feedback from the Olympic athletes and coaches has always been very positive. We seek conversations with them and create the buy-in into our system which has shown amazing success over the years. There are other high-performance training facilities around the world but the UFC prides itself in being considered the best in the world with the Vegas and Shanghai Performance Institutes. The feedback from the athletes and coaches has echoed these claims.

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