Esports renews expectations in China
According to a finding by Newzoo, the global viewership of esports is expected to reach 557 million. The figure was just 380 million in 2018. Likewise, brand investments are also likely to increase in this sports form, amounting to double the figure that was spent in 2018, i.e., $694 million. It is likely to reach $1.39 Bn by 2021 as the interest of the marketers also sees a steep rise.
Eports is increasingly becoming popular in China, owing to the rising interest of the Chinese in the virtual game. So much so, that the country is soon likely to overtake the United States in terms of revenues generated from the sports. Another piece of news reveals how Nike has shown interest in becoming the apparel partner for the League of Legends Pro League and is likely to sponsor the team jerseys and shoes.
According to a survey conducted by government bodies, earnings from the sport will continue to rise in the current year. In fact, it is expected to make more than $45 m, which is significantly higher than US, which is said to have made only $28 m in 2018.
Esports, now a profession
China never sleeps over the game. For instance, Alisports announced that the 2018-2019 WESG Grand Final will be held in the Chongqing Olympic Sports Center. The prize money is a whopping $2.5 milllion. Given the money that goes into the development and sponsorship of the sports, the Chinese government has decided to create new professions- esports professional and esports operator.
The job responsibility of esports operator is to work on esports tournaments and work toward the resulting content. Esports professionals are the one who participate in the tournaments or perform in events or those who train or scrimmage with professional players. “Account boosting” would be another of the job responsibilities of the professionals, requiring them to boost one another’s account for monetary benefits. This might also include playing under the account of another player during professional tournaments. Interestingly, “account boosting” was considered a serious offence in all the previous gaming tournaments and the punishment was at par with hacking or theft.
Further to the development that is happening in the sports, the Shanghai government began an esports athlete registration program last December, which signed in multiple esports projects. In Jan this year, PUBG Corp announced China’s upcoming esport plan, which included operating three professional leagues in the country- PUBG Development League, PCL Preseason, and PUBG Champions League.
The game that connects China and the West
In a first ever merger of such kind, the Chinese Weibo Esports Club is planning a merger with Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club to form a new sports team known as the Wolves Weibo Esports. The team signifies a strong alliance between the Chinese and the Western esports, and in fact even traditional sports. This, in fact is going to set new standards for the team, given the renewed expectations that the Chinese would now have from them.
It, however, remains to be seen how long the craze lasts for a virtual world of sports, given the existing popularity of sporting events that involve actual flesh and blood.