The esports 2019 lineup is already taking shape in China
Yes, you heard that right, even though 2018 is nowhere near over yet, China has been getting ready for 2019 and the continuing developments of esports as an industry. In terms of championships Blizzard and NetEase have already been in discussions and the region is going to have plenty to look forward to. Tournaments for the major Blizzard titles are already being planned including Warcraft III, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone and of course, StarCraft II.
The deal between Blizzard and NetEase will mean larger prize pools across multiple competitions. In total this deal alone brings the total money available to the winners up to ¥5M RMB ($720K USD). That’s fantastic news for the pro players and gives them some pretty sweet prize money to aim for. If that wasn’t enough, Hearthstone players can be in the running for a McLaren supercar at the next CN vs. EU tournament as well. Teams are already practising hard, and with winnings like that on offer, it’s not hard to see why.
If that wasn’t enough, the city of Hangzhou has opened their own esports town, complete with a brand new arena for LCD Gaming in partnership with Allied Esports. This is set to become the home grounds for the League of Legends Pro League (LPL). The complex is immense in scope and once fully completed will include hotels, an academy and even a hospital, all specifically for esports players. If that wasn’t a huge commitment to the ongoing development of esports as a whole, we don’t know what is.
Also causing some discussions, Nike is stepping up to the sponsorship table, or trying to. The sportswear giant is apparently in talks with Tencent regarding the LPL tournament in China. It hasn’t been completely smooth though sailing as some teams are keen to seek sponsorship from other clothing brands, and this deal could put a stop to that.
Nothing has been finalized yet but it will be interesting to see what the end result of these negotiations will look like, as well as the potential impact it could have on future sponsorship deals for the teams involved. There are already some major retailers providing sportswear to several professional Chinese esport teams such as Li-Ning, and as the deal initially stands this would have to be stopped in favour of wearing Nike branded gear on game days only. There is currently pushback, both from players and team management alike but there has been no official response to requests for information just yet, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
There’s so much already planned for 2019 that it’s safe to say there’s going to be no shortage of action to watch, and some great tournaments held in China next year. With so much funding and commitment to the genre of gaming, it will be really exciting to see where we are in a year’s time. Until then, get ready for a year jam-packed with esports tournaments and global championships.