• Eddie Chen

What EDG’s Worlds 2021 Championship Win Means for China's Esports Industry


The 2021 League of Legends World Championship (Worlds 2021) ended in the early morning of November 7. The good news was sealed in laugardalshöll stadium in Iceland when China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL) team Edward Gaming (EDG) defeated League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) team DWG KIA (DK) 3-2 in the Grand Final.

Early morning China time, the whole Chinese League of Legends community celebrated EDG’s victory to the same scale as China winning gold in an Olympic event. We took a look at five key points on how this win will impact China’s esports ecosystem.


1. Pushing League of Legends universe forward in China

The direct impact of this win is becoming an accelerator for Riot Games making a quick expansion of the League of Legends universe. In July, Riot Games officially opened its Shanghai office, and the mobile version of the League of Legends - Wild Rift- was officially published in October. It should be noted that TJ Sports already had plans to build the esports ecosystem of the Wild Rift by signing a two-year strategic partnership deal with OPPO in May.


Therefore, the victory of EDG delivered a perfect moment for TJ Sports and Riot Games to build its own mobile esports ecosystem in China. In addition, Riot Games listed the League of Legends animated series “Arcane” on Netflix while Tencent listed on its own video platform Tencent Video after the Worlds 2021 final. This animation has become an iconic TV series title on both Netflix and Tencent Video. During Nov 8-14, Arcane reached 34M hours viewed and ranked #2 on Netflix English language. The victory, plus this animation, have made the League of Legends universe become a craze in 2021.


2. Esports education

The victory will attract more talent to the industry, one of the most important areas needed to grow the long-term sustainability of esports. In addition, for those who want to understand the esports industry, the esports educational courses developed by SuperGen could also improve the situation. SuperGen Group is the parent company of EDG, an esports conglomerate that manages tournament operations, esports education, and an esports-themed park. The company also announced in January a $1.5B esports center in Shanghai that is set to be completed by 2023. We might also see esports classes and business conferences in Zhu’s $1.5B esports center in the future.


3. Real estate industry

Before the final, Zhu, the owner of EDG stated that he would give every EDG League of Legends player a property in Guangzhou if they won the Worlds championship. Now he is fulfilling his promise. In fact, giving properties to champions is not a new marketing strategy in China. At the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games' Women’s 10m Air Rifle Final, Chinese athlete Qian Yang won her first gold medal, and she was also awarded a house in Ningbo by Chinese real-estate developer Youngor. For Zhu, the victory brought huge traffic to his real-estate assets, getting more “free” promotion from the traditional media and the public. This is a mature marketing strategy in traditional Chinese sports, but the first time for esports.


4. Sponsorship growth

EDG currently has 14 sponsors and partners, including Intel, Red Bull, and Microsoft Surface. It is almost certain that EDG will get new high-quality sponsors after this win, and shows how much influence the esports market could generate. After this victory, EDG sponsors provided a number of discounts through their social media and ecommerce platforms to celebrate the victory. Esports fans and audiences are typically young and have huge purchasing power. The victory will also attract more brands into the industry.


5. Stimulate new announcements around China's esports industry

On Nov 5, the Hangzhou Asian Games Committee announced that the 19th Hangzhou Asian Games would feature eight competitive esports titles, including League of Legends, Honor of Kings, Peacekeeper Elite, Dota 2, Hearthstone, FIFA Online 4, Street Fighter V, and Dream Three Kingdoms 2. For the Chinese esports industry, it means years of hard work will pay off, marking a major step for gaming and esports as a whole. The country has recognised esports as a sport since 2003, but the industry has always been controversial as a sport in society.

 

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