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In the last week, the esports industry in China introduces another draft system, similar to those seen in traditional sports leagues such as the NBA, as well as a developmental league established by a tournament organizer and professional teams, without game publisher involvement.
Among the top stories: Clash Royale League (CRL) has launched a draft system “CRL Qualifier” in China; production company ImbaTV partnered with eight esports organizations to launch China Dota 2 Development League; Invictus Gaming signed a partnership deal with American car brand Chevrolet; STILL8’s esports team Griffin signed a deal with HUYA to broadcast its streams in China; Allied Esports and LGD Gaming’s home venue will become the exclusive live broadcasting venue for 2019 Dota 2’s The International Shanghai.
Every week The Esports Observer presents the biggest esports business news in China, including investments, acquisitions, sponsorships, and other major news from the region.
ImbaTV Partners with Eight Esports Teams to Launch China Dota 2 Development League
On July 8, Chinese production company and tournament organizer ImbaTV announced that it had partnered with eight Chinese esports organizations to launch a national developmental league for Dota 2 called the “China Dota 2 Development League.” The eight esports organizations include LGD Gaming (LGD), Vici Gaming (VG), Keen Gaming (KG), Aster, EHOME , Royal Never Give-Up (RNG), Invictus Gaming, and Newbee.
According to the announcement, the goal of the developmental league is to generate potential talents for the Chinese Dota 2 player pool. Players will be limited by age and professional experience within the competitive scene. The league has a zero-tolerance policy on match-fixing. If a player is involved in any way, he/she will be banned from all ImbaTV-hosted esports tournaments.
The first league will start on July 16. Eight secondary level teams from the aforementioned esports organizations will first take part in the league. In addition, the tournament system will be improved after 2019 Dota 2’s The International Shanghai.
As with nearly every Dota 2 competition, the game’s publisher, Valve , is not involved in the Dota 2 development league. Even in the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC), the Dota 2 Majors are not directly hosted by Valve, but by multiple tournament organizers including PGL , Starladder , DreamHack , Mars Media , Epic Esports Event and ImbaTV. In this case, the China Dota 2 Development League will be hosted not only without Valve, but also Dota 2’s Chinese game distributor Perfect World. This means there are no opportunities for players to get DPC points.
Game publishers, which are at the top of the esports ecosystem, control the game’s IP and usually have the right to identify which tournament is an ‘official’ tournament, and which one is not. For the League of Legends system in China, TJ Sports , the joint venture of Tencent Games and game publisher Riot Games , runs the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) and also the League of Legends Development League (LDL). PUBG Corp., game publisher of PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG), runs the PUBG Champions League (PCL) and PUBG Development League (PDL).
The game publisher can not only provide the best financial support for a development league, but also more opportunities for teams competing in those leagues. In 2018, Chinese esports organization Dominus Esports (DMO) joined the LPL after winning the LDL 2017 season. According to PUBG Corp’s announcement in January, the top PDL teams will be able to qualify for the PCL preseason.
Peter “PPD” Dager, founder of the North American Dota Challengers League (NADCL) and part of the winning 2015 Dota 2’s The International team Evil Geniuses , later commented on Twitter: “China not crying to Valve and supporting their own.”
Without the game publisher’s support, and after the passion from the fanbase has died down, how can one monetize these leagues, and what extra opportunities can tournament organizers give? In this special Dota 2 tournament system, if the league can find a sustainable business model, it will be an interesting case to help other regions establish their own Dota 2 development circuits.
Clash Royale League to Launch Draft Only System in China
On July 5, Chinese tournament organizer Versus Programming Network (VSPN) and game publisher Supercell announced that they would launch a draft system “CRL Qualifier” for the Clash Royale League (CRL) Fall Season. The CRL Qualifier will be the only way for new players to get into the CRL. The first draft ran from July 5-7 in the Chinese city of Shanghai.
According to the announcement, the CRL Qualifier will start before every Spring and Fall season, aiming for twice a year. After the CRL Qualifier, all teams will need to confirm their official team members to VSPN and Supercell for the upcoming season.
It should be noted that the drafting regulation is similar to the NBA. In the first CRL Qualifier, the sequence of teams selecting players was based on team rankings last season. Lower-ranked teams were given priority in selecting players through a three-round draft
MLB Launches a Three-Month Esports League Across Seven Chinese Cities
On July 5, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that it will launch an esports tournament called MLB China Esports League across seven Chinese cities including Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Beijing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Shanghai in 2019.
The tournament will feature eight esports teams and compete in MLB’s official console game “MLB The Show” across three months. According to Shao Yinxin, director of marketing and media for MLB China, the esports tournament is expected to help increase the penetration of baseball in the country.
Other Esports Business News:
- On July 10, esports organization RNG and Disney Official both posted five marketing posters on Chinese social media platform Weibo, featuring five RNG League of Legends players with the logo and mascot of upcoming Disney movie The Lion King.
- On July 5, Li-Ning and RNG’s co-branded shoes were listed on Li-Ning’s offline store, across six Chinese cities, including Chengdu, Tianjin, Beijing, Lanzhou, Wuhan and Changchun. On July 3, Li-Ning and Newbee’s co-branded shoes went up on Newbee’s online store.
- On July 6, Tencent Games Security Center announced that it will release strict punishment on match-fixing for the League of Legends auto battler mode Teamfight Tactics. While the game mode has been available in other regions for several weeks, its test version was just opened in China on July 8.
- According to a Tencent Esports and TJ Sports report, the top LPL teams have a value of assessment around ¥1.25B RMB ($182M USD), and most of esports organizations in China are currently not profitable.
- Only July 4, Allied Esports and LGD Gaming announced the LGD Gaming’s Hangzhou home venue will host the official live broadcasting event for 2019 Dota 2’s The International Shanghai. The venue has six-hundred seats.
- On July 4, American car brand Chevrolet announced its partnership deal with Chinese esports organization Invictus Gaming , acting as the team’s official car partner. Financial terms were not disclosed.