LPL to Switches to Online Matches Due to COVID-19; KFC Sponsors LoL Japan League

Last week, China’s esports industry saw a big increase in investments and acquisitions. Esports company Bilibili Esports raised ¥180M RMB ($28M USD) in its initial funding round, and VSPN acquired production company Banana Gaming & Media with undisclosed financial terms.

Also in the Asia region,  fast-food restaurant chains are recognizing the commercial value in the Asian esports market. As two of the largest American fast-food restaurants, KFC and McDonald’s announced that they will sponsor League of Legends Japan League (LJL) and League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK), respectively.

LPL to Switch Back Online Matches, Cancels Shanghai and Suzhou Offline Events

On Thursday, China’s League of Legends esports operator TJ Sports announced that it would cancel the offline events from its Shanghai home venue due to the current COVID-19 restrictions in Shanghai. The current LPL competition will switch back online, and the ticket price will be refunded for attendees who already bought the tickets. 

Shanghai is the most important city for LPL and esports, as it is the home for many LPL teams including Edward Gaming (EDG), Royal Never Give-Up (RNG), Invictus Gaming, and others. In addition, TJ Sports is based in Shanghai, alongside many other tournament organizers, VSPN, Imba TV, and Bilibili Esports. In addition, LNG’s Suzhou home venue also closed its service for offline events because of its close proximity to  Shanghai.

This decision followed the Shanghai government reporting three new COVID-19 cases on Thursday morning. The Zhaotong Road, Huangpu District has been recognized as a “medium risk” area by the government.

KFC Sponsors League of Legends Japan League, McDonald’s Sponsors League of Legends Champions Korea

American fast-food brand KFC announced Wednesday that the brand signed a sponsorship deal with Japan’s top League of Legends competition, League of Legends Japan League (LJL) Spring Split, with financial terms undisclosed.

KFC is also the official partner of the LPL. It should be noted that the LPL competitions not only feature the KFC logo, but also feature the “KI Colonel” during the data analysis process. It’s not clear whether the LJL will feature this function during its broadcasts.

In addition,  McDonald’s announced a sponsorship deal with South Korea’s League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) last week. 2021 is also the first year that the LCK operates a franchising mode, which attracted a number of brands, including HP Omen, Logitech G, and Woori Bank. On Wednesday, South Korean Woori Bank renewed its sponsorship deal with LCK until 2023. 

Other Esports business news in China:

  • On Jan. 17, Chinese Dota 2 team EHOME announced that the team signed a sponsorship deal with betting outlet OB. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. EHOME competes in the  2021 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) China Region.
  • On Jan. 14, Shanghai-based esports organization Bilibili Esports announced that it raised a ¥180M ($27.8M) seed financing round led by Zhejiang Chuangxiang Cultural Fund. Further investors that participated in the round include Tianfu Culture Investment, and media company Chengdu B-Ray Media.
  • On Jan. 15, VSPN announced that it completed the acquisition of Chinese production company Banana Gaming & Media. Sicong Wang, the founder of Banana Gaming & Media will serve as vice chairman of VSPN’s strategy committee.

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