Each month, sports digital agency Mailman rounds up the biggest industry news and insights from China’s esports scene, along with analysis on why it matters.
Over the past month, Chinese esports business news has slowed down, but there were still multiple partnerships and announcements worth nothing. In addition, the Chinese esports community and the government are preparing for the first Olympic-level esports events — the Hangzhou Asian Games from September 23rd – October 8th.
Among the top stories in August: Huya CEO Rongjie Dong resigned and the company reported £199.5 million in total revenue for Q2 2023; Pizza Hut China signed a co-branded collaboration deal with Tencent for League of Legends; and Chinese game publisher Perfect World announced plans to hold the $500K CS:GO Asian Championship in November.
Huya CEO Rongjie Dong resigned after 17 years, Ashley Wu and Junhong Huang appointed as acting Co-CEOs
On August 1st, Chinese gaming live streaming platform Huya announced that its long-term CEO Rongjie Dong would leave the company for personal reasons. Huya Vice President of Finance Ashley Wu and Senior Vice President Junhong Huang were appointed as Co-CEOs of the company until the board confirmed a new and permanent CEO. On August 7th, Dong confirmed it was his last day at the company through personal social media, ending his 17-year journey leading the company.
Dong’s career at Huya could be characterised as legendary. He joined Huya’s former parent company YY and incubated the company from a game division of YY in 2008 to a Nasdaq-listed company in 2018, becoming one of China’s top two gaming live streaming platforms. In 2020, Tencent announced that the company would push Douyu to merge with Huya, worth a combined $5.3 billion in market value, and Rong would become the Co-CEO of the new entity. However, the plan fell afoul of China’s antimonopoly policy and was terminated in 2021.
It’s not clear what the next step is for Dong in his career. On August 17th, Huya reported its financial results for the second quarter of 2023; the company generated total revenue of £199.5 million for the period, which marked a decrease of 20% YoY compared to £248.9 million in Q2 2022.
Pizza Hut partners with Tencent for League of Legends in Chin
On August 9th, Pizza Hut announced that it signed a collaboration partnership deal with Chinese game publisher Tencent for League of Legends in September. The two would provide co-branded set meals and merchandise at 54 Pizza Hut restaurants across multiple cities in China including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Kunming, Suzhou, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.
Though the partnership deal does not include China’s top League of Legends competition — the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) — the collaboration would still get huge commercial benefits from League of Legends esports, considering it would be one of the official esports medal titles at Hangzhou Asian Games, the most important international sports event in China this year.
We expect to see more brand activities and collaborations between League of Legends and Pizza Hut during the Hangzhou Asian Games.
Perfect World to host $500K CS:GO Asian Championship in Shanghai
On August 25th, Chinese game publisher Perfect World announced that it would host the CS:GO Asian Championship (CAC) in Shanghai from November 8th-12th, featuring a $500,000 (~£403,000)) total prize pool and six international teams, including FaZe Clan, Team Liquid, G2 Esports, Astralis, Mouz, and ENCE, and two Chinese teams LVG and 5yclone.
After four years, the Chinese CS:GO community could finally watch offline CS:GO competitions in China. The last CS:GO event in China was ESL’s Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) Beijing-Haidian in 2019. In addition, CS:GO developer Valve is also targeting Shanghai for the second 2024 Counter-Strike (CS2) Major in December 2024. The upcoming CAC could be recognized as a pre-test for Perfect World and its partner PGL.
Counter-Strike is widely considered of the big three esports titles and a leading FPS. Riot Games will also hold its VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT) Masters in Shanghai in Summer 2024. It signals increased activity in the race between Valve’s CS2 and Riot’s’ VALORANT as we head into 2024.