Each month, sports digital agency Mailman shares the biggest esports stories and insights from China’s esports scene, along with expert analysis on why they matter.
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With an ongoing COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai — the heart of China’s esports industry — many esports leagues have been postponed, including the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) and Dota 2 Pro Circuit (DPC). Despite these recent pandemic-related challenges, there were several major partnerships and sponsorships worth noting.
Sponsors line up for China’s first Wild Rift League
On March 21, China’s League of Legends esports operator TJ Sports announced its partner list for the first League of Legends Wild Rift League (WRL). Chinese smartphone company OnePlus became the chief partner of the league, while Chinese spring water company Wahaha, automobile maker KIA, and sportswear apparel company PUMA became strategic partners. In addition, Coca-Cola and Chinese dairy brand Momchilovtsi also became official partners.
This is one of the first times that we have seen global brands such as Coca-Cola enter China’s esports scene at such a prominent level, joining Nike on this exclusive list. The brand has had multiple long-term and strong partnerships with large-scale sports events, such as its long-standing relationship with the Olympic Games since 1928. This partnership is a significant milestone and commercial value recognition for Wild Rift esports as well as the Chinese esports industry. We expect to witness more partnerships in the mobile esports circuit, and are excited to see how brands like Coca-Cola can authentically integrate into esports.
PSG.LGD signs two-year partnership with EPOS
On March 17, Chinese Dota 2 team PSG.LGD announced that it had signed a two-year partnership deal with Denmark-based audio equipment firm EPOS, a subsidiary of hearing health care company Demant. The EPOS brand will also be featured on the right shoulder of team jerseys.
PSG.LGD is one of the best Dota 2 teams in the world, winning second place at The International in 2018 and 2020, and third place in 2019. As the esports branch of French football team Paris Saint-Germain, PSG.LGD continues to enjoy high commercial value in the whole Dota 2 ecosystem even during the pandemic. This represents another successful next step for the team in their commercial development.
LPL and DPC postponed due to Shanghai COVID-19 lockdown
On March 30th, TJ Sports and Chinese game publisher Perfect World both announced that they were tentatively postponing the LPL playoffs and DPC until April 12th. The leagues are China’s top League of Legends and Dota 2 competitions, respectively. As of this writing, Shanghai has reported over 100,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and multiple areas have been put into lockdown.
This postponement could affect the LPL teams attending the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) in May due to the qualification requirements. However, if the LPL playoffs continue to be postponed under the current situation in Shanghai, Riot Games and TJ Sports will have to consider the possibility that this year’s MSI might not have an LPL team in attendance.
Mailman is a leading sports digital agency in China. It helps sports organisations & brands to build sustainable businesses in China, one of the world’s most challenging markets. Mailman is an Endeavor China company.