The League of Legends World Championship (Worlds 2020) completed its brutal knockout stage last week. Four teams, Suning Esports (SN), G2 Esports, TOP Esports (TES), and Damwon Gaming, entered the semi-finals, while Fnatic, JingDong Gaming, Gen.G Esports, and DragonX were eliminated.
For League of Legends Pro League (LPL) audiences, competitions between SN and JDG and TES and Fnatic attracted the most attention. On the one hand, SN is considered an underdog, and both SN and JDG are owned by Chinese e-commerce giants. Before the competition, both e-commerce giants started their marketing battle on the internet.
TES is the top seed of the LPL, while Fnatic has a massive fan base in China. Both teams’ star players Yu “Jackeylove” Wenbo and Martin “Rekkles” Larsson were against each other at the Worlds 2018 Final (Invictus Gaming vs. Fnatic).
Among the top business stories in China’s esports industry: Suning Esports issued $15M USD e-commerce vouchers to Suning users to celebrate its victory over JingDong Gaming at the knockout stage of Worlds 2020; TOP Esports vs Fnatic broke the viewership record in the current Worlds 2020, and helped Xiao Yang go viral in the League of Legends community; Honor of Kings team Weibo TS signed a non-endemic partnership deal with Zi Hai Guo; and Perfect World planned to host a $200K Dota 2 competition called Perfect World Dota 2 League (PWL).
Suning Issues $15M in E-Commerce Vouchers to Celebrate Suning Esports Win
Last week’s knockout stage was probably the cruelest and most exciting period of Worlds 2020 so far. October is a significant month for Chinese e-commerce companies as they usually use the whole month of October to prepare for the “Double 11 shopping festival” (same as Black Friday in the West). For people who work for Chinese e-commerce platforms Jing Dong and Suning, the competition between Suning Esports (SN) and JingDong Gaming (JDG) was not just for entertainment since one of the organizations would be ending its Worlds marketing campaign after the best-of-five matches.
On Oct.10, Jing Dong announced its esports marketing plans on the JingDong hardware zone, targeting JDG and Worlds fans:
- If JDG won the Worlds 2020, the company would return the balance payment of the products from Oct.15 to the date JDG wins the Worlds or be eliminated.
- If any of the LPL teams won the Worlds 2020, the company would issue 100M “Jing Dong beans” to Jing Dong users. (1000 beans equal to ￥1 RMB)
Italian soccer team F.C. Internazionale Milano (Inter Milan) is also owned by Suning. Before the competition, Inter Milan increased its social media interaction with SN. Kangyang Zhang, vice president of Suning and chairman of Inter Milan, also encouraged SN players on social media Weibo.
After SN won, Zhang expressed his pleasure with the result on Weibo and said that the company would issue ￥100M ($15M USD) in e-commerce vouchers, and 1K free-of-charge opportunities to Suning users, from Oct. 16-23.
Vouchers and free opportunities can be only used for purchasing PC, hardware, smartphone, and digital products on Suning.
TES vs Fnatic Breaks Worlds 2020 Viewership Records
The best-of-five matches between LPL team TOP Esports (TES) and LEC team Fnatic created a milestone in Worlds history – the first comeback from a 2-2 deficit after a three-match win streak by TES.
After this win, TES announced a sponsorship deal with Apple-owned headphone brand Beats By Dre. The brand was also featured on the right shoulder of team jerseys.
In addition, TES vs Fnatic broke the viewership record of Worlds 2020 so far with peak viewers of 2.42M, across several major live streaming platforms including Twitch and Youtube, according to Esports Charts.
China’s DouYu, Huya, and Bilibili viewership numbers were not recorded.
The competition also boosted a Chinese food brand that went viral on the internet. During the competition, hungry Fnatic players ate Chinese fried pork buns made by Xiao Yang, and were accidentally captured on the live stream. This capture went viral in the community after TES won. Xiao Yang has a 20-year history as a food brand in Shanghai. Some LPL fans made a joke that Xiao Yang saved TES and LPL teams in Worlds. There was also a discussion about whether esports players should eat high-oil food during the competition.
Xiao Yang also noted this situation as a marketing opportunity, due to massive internet traffic and voices from the League of Legends community. The company produced two “esports and League of Legends special meals” on its food delivery page the day after the competition. Xiao Yang is not the sponsor of either LPL and Worlds 2020.
Honor of Kings Team Weibo TS Partners With Instant Food Brand Zi Hai Guo
On Oct.19, the Chinese Honor of Kings team Weibo TS announced that the team partnered with instant food brand Zi Hai Guo. The brand will become Weibo TS’ global partner, and the logo will be featured on the left chest of team jerseys.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Weibo TS owns a franchise slot in China’s top Honor of Kings competition, King Pro League (KPL). In August, Chinese social media company Weibo acquired TS Gaming, and rebranded it to Weibo TS. Before the acquisition, TS won the $4.6M Honor of Kings World Champion Cup and took home $1.93M in prize money.
Other Esports Business News:
- On Oct. 20, esports organization FunPlus Phoenix announced that the organization had opened its Call of Duty Mobile esports division.
- On Oct. 18, the Chinese Dota 2 Association (CDA) announced that the organization partnered with online tournament organizer Fuming Wenhe to host a Dota 2 competition called CDA-FDC, featuring seven major Chinese Dota 2 teams with a ￥600K ($90K) total prize pool.
- On Oct. 20, Chinese game publisher Perfect World announced it would host its $200K Perfect World Dota 2 League (PWL), starting Oct. 28. The competition will be featured in three seasons with a relegation system. However, a scheduling conflict between CDA-FDC and PWL was created and at the time of writing, all teams from the Chinese Dota 2 Association refused the first season invitation from Perfect World.
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