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, the esports industry in China saw several vital developments in top-tier esports competitions and investments, primarily related to the Chinese city of Chengdu and the esports organisation All Gamers.
In addition, South Korean esports organisation T1 defeated Chinese esports organisation Weibo Gaming (WBG) at the League of Legends World Championship 2023 Grand Final in Seoul. T1 and its legendary player Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok won the fourth League of Legends World Championship, and broke the esports viewership record.
Among the top stories: All Gamers raised over £1.11m in a Series B+ financing round; Douyu’s CEO Chen Shaojie was reportedly arrested by Chinese police for allegedly opening illegal casinos; Chengdu aims to become the esports cultural city in China and will host three large-scale esports competitions in December.
All Gamers raises over £1.11M in a Series B+ financing round
On November 2nd, Chinese esports organisation All Gamers (AG) announced that it had raised over ￥10M RMB (~£1.11m) in a Series B+ financing round, led by Chengdu government-backed Orinno Capital.
Orinno Capital is owned by Chengdu Gaoxin District, one of the richest and most innovative districts in Chengdu, the economic centre of Western China. In addition, sources close to All Gamers told Mailman that it is looking to complete the IPO process before 2025-2026.
AG competes in League of Legends, Honor of Kings, Peacekeeper Elite, and CrossFire. In 2022, AG acquired a League of Legends Pro League (LPL) franchise slot from Rogue Warriors (RW) and rebranded to Anyone’s Legend (AL). Chinese video platform Bilibili is also one of AG’s investors.
With government investment in the esports organisation, we expect to see more All Gamers players and images around Chengdu City.
Douyu’s CEO Chen Shaojie get arrested by Chengdu Police
On November 22nd, Chengdu Dujiangyan Police released a statement on Weibo that Douyu’s CEO and board chairman Chen Shaojie had been arrested for suspicion of opening a casino, and allowing gambling on Douyu. The case is ongoing, but Shaojie could face 5-10 years imprisonment if the court finds Shaojie guilty.
Douyu, a major Chinese live streaming platform, noted that Shaojie’s ongoing detention and any subsequent related legal proceedings might adversely impact the company’s reputation, business and operations.
As of this writing, Douyu’s rival Huya has not commented on Shaojie’s case. Sources close to Douyu and Huya told Mailman that Shaojie’s case might accelerate Huya or its parent company Tencent, to take over Douyu.
Also on November 22nd, Douyu announced that it had teamed up with Huya to co-host their first esports online competition called ‘Fist Games’, featuring only Douyu and Huya streamers, and Riot Games esports titles League of Legends, League of Legends Wild Rift, VALORANT, and Teamfight Tactics.
Chengdu to host three major tournaments in December
On November 28th, the Chengdu government hosted a press conference, ‘Chengdu 2023-2024 World Esports Competitions Launch’, in its Gaoxin District, alongside its iconic Twin Towers. Chengdu announced that the city will host:
- The CrossFire’s world championship event — CrossFire Stars (CFS) 2023 — at Chengdu Gaoxin Gymnasium on December 10th
- The Naraka Bladepoint World Championship (J Cup 2023) at Chengdu Financial City Arts Center on December 16-17th
- The $9.63M Honor of Kings World Champion Cup at Chengdu Phoenix Hill Gymnasium on December 30th
Executives from Tencent, Tencent’s TiMi Studios, Smilegate, and NetEase attended the press conference, and a representative from Chengdu Gaoxin District noted that esports in Chengdu Gaoxin District expects to surpass ￥60B (~£6.67B) industrial scale, and the city aims to become the esports cultural city of China.