China Esports Blast: March 2023

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.

China Esports Blast March 2023 graphic
Image credit: Esports Insider / Mailman Group

In March, China’s esports industry continued to witness several key sponsorships and partnerships, including a British machine oil brand and a Swiss watchmaker, with esports teams.

In addition, the Hangzhou Asian Games also made remarkable movement by starting to sell League of Legends, Peacekeeper Elite and Honor of Kings co-branded esports merchandise series’.

Castrol sponsors Wolves Esports Honor of Kings squad

Castrol sponsors LPL team
Image via: Mailman Group

British machine oil brand Castrol signed a sponsorship deal with global esports organisation Wolves Esports (Wolves) for its Honor of Kings squad, Chongqing Wolves. The brand will be featured on the left shoulder of the team jerseys. 

It should be noted that Castrol has also been one of the sponsors of the King Pro League (KPL) since 2021. It means Castrol has fully integrated into China’s Honor of Kings esports ecosystem. 

In addition, the partnership might also extend into the UK market, as Wolves Esports’ parent company Fosun also owns the English Premier League (EPL) football team Wolverhampton Wanderers. In 2021, the Chongqing Wolves’ Honor of Kings champion poster was featured on Wolverhampton Wanderers’ home venue Molineux Stadium LED screen.

Swiss watchmaker TISSOT sponsors Edward Gaming

TISSOT china esports partnership
Image via: Mailman Group

Swiss watchmaker TISSOT sponsored Chinese esports organisation Edward Gaming (EDG), becoming its exclusive watch partner. It marks the first time that an LPL team signed a deal with a watch brand. 

EDG, especially its League of Legends Pro League (LPL) squad, is considered one of the best-performing LPL teams with the most commercial value in the past three years. However, sources close to EDG stated that players would not wear TISSOT watches during the competitions.

This may be a result of players not feeling comfortable wearing traditional watches when they compete. Meanwhile, electronic watches like the Apple Watch are more focused on the sports and fitness field, and we may well see more watch brands enter the space.

Hangzhou Asian Games removes Hearthstone, releases first esports merchandise series

Hangzhou Games esports merch
Image via: Mailman Group

Hangzhou Asian Games released the first batch of esports merchandise on its Taobao online store. The store featured merch from League of Legends, Peacekeeper Elite and Honor of Kings. It should be noted that all of those three esports titles are owned by Tencent. 

In addition, Hangzhou Asian Games announced that it had removed Hearthstone from the official esports titles due to the termination of China distribution partnership between developer Activision Blizzard and NetEase. This means that NetEase and Activision will not be involved in the Olympic-level events as licensors — nor the co-branded merchandise. 

It is more likely the second merchandise series will feature Dota 2 (licensed by Perfect World and Valve), FIFA (EA), and StreetFighter (Capcom). It is encouraging to see esports getting recognition from a government-affiliated entity and generating more revenue in multiple ways.

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.

Esports Insider