Chinese conglomerate Tencent has expanded the King Pro League season invitational tournaments to Asia-Pacific teams, moving beyond China.
Eight teams from China, Korea, and South Asia will be invited to the 2019 King Pro League Winter Champion Cup.
A new KPL competition will be launched in South Korea, and another including teams from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwain, and Southeast Asia. The top two teams from each of the regions will be invited to the Winter Champion Cup, with four Chinese squads receiving direct invites. Taking place in January, the event will have a $500,000 (£380,200) prize pool.
Two non-endemic brands have been brought in to KPL’s roster of sponsors too: M&M’s and Saic Volkswagen. McDonald’s, Vivo, and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank will all remain as main sponsors for the 2018 season. Tencent has licensing deals to create KPL merchandise with Under Armor, Lukfook Jewellery, Garmin, and NEWERR.
Tencent has also created the KPL Union, which will develop five professional standards for the competition. This includes the qualification of clubs, a local salary cap, management rules, and standards for both local and international competitions. The KPL will no longer include promotion and relegation, instead adjusting the team count from 12 to 14. TOP.m, RW侠, TS Gaming, and Team WE are the first teams to join the KPL Union.
The King Pro League is based on Honor of Kings, a mobile game published by Tencent Games. Arena of Valor, another version of the game, was released in Europe and the United States in 2017.
Esports Insider says: Opening up the King Pro League to additional companies seems like a good move for exposure and talent, as long as it’s done properly. The KPL Union seems like it will make sure the expansion is done properly and in a professional manner. Mobile esports continues to blossom with the likes of the KPL and the Clash Pro League, so a development such as this is exciting news.