Each month, sports digital agency Mailman shares the biggest industry news and insights from China’s esports scene, along with analysis on why it matters.
For Chinese fans of Blizzard titles, it was a tough end to November. Activision Blizzard ended its 14-year partnership with Chinese game publisher NetEase, meaning that — at present — Chinese players will not be able to play Blizzard games from January 23rd.
Meanwhile, former Chinese president Jiang Zemin passed away on November 30 at 96 years old; multiple esports and gaming companies suspended their events to mourn him, including the LPL All-Star.
Esports Events Suspended to Mourn Jiang Zemin Passing
China’s League of Legends esports operator announced it would suspend its League of Legends Pro League (LPL) All-Star events “in response to the relevant notice.” The notice came from the former Chinese president Jiang Zemin passing away, and the whole country shut down their entertainment services, including gaming and gaming-related live streaming, for a whole day on December 6.
The LPL All-Star was the industry’s first esports event to respond to Jiang’s passing. Jiang was also the former Mayor of Shanghai City, the centre of China’s esports industry. During his term following president Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, resources and international games started to be imported to Chinese families.
Activision Blizzard Ends 14-year Partnership with NetEase in China
On November 17th, game publisher Activision Blizzard and China’s second-largest game publisher NetEase ended their long-running partnership. All of Blizzard’s major titles, including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Warcraft III: Reforged, Overwatch, StarCraft II, and Heroes of Storm will be suspended by midnight on January 24. Activision Blizzard announced that it is seeking alternative partners in China; Tencent, Perfect World, Bilibili, and ByteDance could be the potential options.
This is a major disruption for Blizzard fans and players in China. With no more Blizzard games after January 23rd next year, esports organisations and live streaming platforms have laid off many professional players and streamers.
Additionally, all suspended Blizzard games must apply for a new game approval from the Chinese authorities if Blizzard finds an alternative partner in China. The period for applying for game approvals could take months or even years. The Olympic Council of Asia might have to change Hearthstone to another esports title for the 19th Hangzhou Asian Games in 2023.
Dubai Esports Festival Featured PUBG Global Championship and Hollywood Celebrities
On November 21st, Chinese tournament organiser VSPN and Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) hosted the Dubai Esports Festival in the city, featuring PUBG Global Championship (PGC), an Honor of Kings esports tournament with USD$25,000 prize money, and meet-and-greets with Hollywood celebrities Chris Hemsworth, Stephen Amell, and Kit Harington.
November is a particularly important month for the Middle Eastern region, as it not only hosted the FIFA World Cup, but also hosted plenty of esports events with support from Chinese esports companies. VSPN and the whole Middle East esports scene also made a significant step by hosting a global esports event — PGC and its first Honor of Kings tournament. It shows extensive esports and sports business opportunities in the region.
Mailman is a leading sports digital agency in China. It helps sports organisations & brands build sustainable businesses in China, one of the world’s most challenging markets. Mailman is an Endeavor China company.