Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Sports / China

Shanghai pressing all the right buttons

By SHI FUTIAN | China Daily | Updated: 2019-01-15 09:20
Hero Jiujing team members celebrate defeating QGhappy 4-2 in the final of the Honor of Kings Champion Cup winter season on Sunday at Shanghai's Oriental Sports Center, where 15,000 spectators watched the action. The arena is now officially recognized as Tencent E-sports' primary stadium in China. [Photo/IC]

City leads way as local governments reap benefits of embracing gaming

The value of China's fast-growing e-sports industry is attracting the favor of the nation's local governments, with many embracing gaming with open arms.

Now Shanghai, already a tournament hub and home to numerous e-sports organizations, is leveling up as it establishes itself as a major center for the sector.

Typical of Shanghai's expansion is a new deal announced on Saturday that makes the city's Oriental Sports Center the primary host stadium for Tencent E-sports tournaments.

Kicking off the partnership in style, Tencent's homegrown hit Honor of Kings held the final of its Champion Cup winter season at the venue on Sunday, watched by about 15,000 spectators.

"The e-sports industry now has a great development opportunity in China, and Shanghai has a very specific aim of becoming an international e-sports center," said Fan Jianlin, chairman of Shanghai Juss Sports Development (Group) Co. Ltd, which owns the stadium.

"We are experienced in organizing traditional sports events such as tennis' ATP Shanghai Masters and Formula One's Chinese Grand Prix. We are also China's leader in athletics arenas. The cooperation with Tencent is a milestone for China's e-sports development.

"The center was built a decade ago, and we have to upgrade its internet and broadband infrastructure to meet the extremely high requirements of e-sports tournaments. It's a great chance for us to upgrade to a smart stadium."

Tencent hopes the Oriental Sports Center can set the standard for the industry.

"We have been organizing e-sports tournaments for over a decade and we have been to many stadiums in China," said Mars Hou, general manager of Tencent's interactive entertainment marketing department.

"It's necessary to set a standard in the industry. As Shanghai aims to become China's e-sports center, the city boasts great infrastructure.

"The city and the industry both need a flagship e-sports stadium that can be an example to others that want to welcome e-sports. Before this, we just rented the stadium-now we can have deeper cooperation."

Last year, Tencent E-sports unveiled plans to nurture ties with local governments to help establish e-sports as a calling card for their areas.

Central to the plan are Honor of Kings, a title that boasts around 200 million registered users, and the King Pro League (KPL), China's largest mobile e-sports competition.

Although broadcasts of KPL tournaments rack up billions of views online each season, Shanghai has been the only place to go to watch the action live and up close.

Last year the league split into eastern and western conferences, with a view to visiting more cities. Chengdu in Sichuan province was the first new stop, and more are in the pipeline.

"The first requirement to select a new host city for our competitions is that it should have a big population of Honor of Kings gamers," said Zhang Yijia, president of the KPL.

"Secondly, we have to consider the local economy, including the city's infrastructure and the local government's preferential policies.

"Finally, we require clubs to have a deep bond with a city and local fans.

"I can't reveal the list, but in the future there will be more host cities."

Honor of Kings has also shown its potential to go global after its international version was included as a demonstration event in last summer's Asian Games in Jakarta, where the Chinese squad won gold.

Tencent marketing supremo Mars said there were many teething problems in Indonesia, so the company is keen to learn from Juss Sports' logistical expertise.

"Fans could only see the exciting matches and the gold we won, but in Jakarta we encountered many problems we never expected. It was no easy job to hold a continental competition," said Mars.

"Problems such as the players' urine tests, accommodation and especially their commute from the hotel to the stadium were very new to us in the e-sports sector. The cooperation with Juss presents a great chance for us to learn about event organization from traditional sports."

Honor of King's international version differs greatly from the original, which has a much larger user base and more pronounced Chinese cultural elements.

In a bid to expand the league further, Tencent is pushing the domestic version of the game more strongly in foreign markets.

Last year, the KPL established a South Korean league called KRKPL, whose most recent winner, KZ, competed in Shanghai.

"E-sports can be a bridge of cultural communication and we want Honor of Kings to promote Chinese culture and history," said Zhang.

"We built the first foreign league, the KRKPL, that now has eight teams. We established the Champion Cup, an international tournament, based on the domestic version to allow foreigners to compete with China's KPL teams.

"Now we are working on increasing the competitiveness of our foreign league. To improve the new teams, we plan to send domestic talents and coaches to improve them. In the mobile e-sports sector, without a doubt the KPL is now the most advanced in the world."

Most Popular


What's Hot
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349