LPL Breaks Vietnam Viewership Record, Nike Unveils LPL Co-Branded Bomber Jacket, Team Kits, and More

Last week, the biggest developments in China’s esports industry revolved around League of Legends esports. The League of Legends nine-year festival concluded in Shanghai, with Chinese teams TOP Esports (TES), Jing Dong Gaming (JDG), Suning Esports (SN), and LGD Gaming (LGD) confirmed to attend the League of Legends World Championship 2020 (Worlds 2020) to represent the League of Legends Pro League (LPL). The U.S. event service company Freeman collaborated with LPL operator TJ Sports to set the grand stage for the event.

It should be noted that TES, JDG, and SN are all supported by large-scale Chinese e-commerce companies, Top Sports, Jing Dong, and Suning, and all four qualifying teams are different from last year (Royal Never Give-Up, Edward Gaming, and 2019 World Champion FunPlus Phoenix).

Among the top stories in China’s esports industry: LPL broke viewership records in Vietnam with 130K peak watching on YouTube; Nike unveiled multiple LPL co-branded uniforms and shoes for the four qualifying teams and their fans; KFC collaborated with a G2 Esports’ League of Legends player on a short video for Weibo for LPL grand final prediction.

In addition, news from South Korea worth noting: the country is pushing a policy proposal to postpone the time of military service to 30 years old, targeting some remarkable public artists and esports players, according to senators from the Democratic Party of South Korea. If the policy is applied, South Korean esports players like Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok (24-year-old) would be expected to play six more years in the League of Legends professional scene. Generally, the maximum age of military service in South Korea is 27 year old.

LPL Breaks Viewership Record in Vietnam, But Country’s Teams  Won’t Attend Worlds 2020

Last week, LPL broke viewership records in Vietnam.  On Aug.29, during the Live-competition between SN and LGD, the LPL Vietnamese YouTube channel first broke 100K concurrent viewers, and had a peak viewership of 130K during the third matches. In addition, it only took 15 hours to get 1M views after LPL updated the video on YouTube, which also broke the record. Eventually, SN defeated LGD and became the third qualifying LPL team in Worlds 2020. 

The reason behind this record-breaking milestone was due to SN League of Legends player Le “SofM” Quang Duy’s nationality is Vietnamese, and also the first time that he qualified in Worlds. 

Some Chinese esports outlets described Quang Duy as the “Vietnamese Yao Ming,” China’s iconic basketball player who played for the NBA’s Houston Rockets, and brought massive Chinese viewership and commercial value to the team and NBA. 

On Sept. 1, Riot Games announced that two qualifying teams from Vietnam would not be able to attend the Worlds 2020, due to the country’s COVID-19 restrictions and strict borer controls currently in place. Riot Games will also awarded the team a full share of the prize pool as though they had participated in the event. 

Nike Unveils Co-Branded LPL Uniforms and Shoes, Tencent Names Jay Chou and Karry Wang as LoL China Brand Spokespeople

On top of showcasing the performance of LPL players, global sportswear brand Nike and Tencent unveiled their new products and partnership with LPL and League of Legends at the game’s nine-year festival. 

For LPL, Nike unveiled a co-branded bomber jacket and four styles of team jerseys for the qualifying teams. LPL team TES was able to first pick the style due to its first seed of LPL, with JDG, SN, and LGD picking later, respectively. Nike also released a Worlds-inspired design for the Air Jordan I Zoom Air CMFT, and an apparel line called “Good Game,” including Nike’s Air Max, Air Force 1, and Blazer series, as well as t-shirts and hoodies. The apparel line is unrelated to the LPL and focuses more on esports generally. 

The “LPL X Nike” bomber jacket has been listed on the LPL Taobao Store with a price of ¥1,299 ($190 USD). 

Also during the event, Joses Zhu, general manager of the cooperative marketing department of Tencent Interactive Entertainment Group and board member of TJ Sports, announced that Chinese musician Jay Chou and Karry Wang have become the brand spokespeople of League of Legends in China

Chou has been recognized as one of the most successful and influential Asian entertainers for his achievements in China’s music and film scene. Wang also has a significant presence in the Chinese music industry. 

Chou also owns a League of Legends professional team J Team, which competes in the League of Legends Pacific Championship Series (PCS). Chou bought the Taiwanese League of Legends team Taipei Assassins (TPA), the champion of Worlds 2012, and rebranded it to J Team in 2016. 

KFC’s New Social Media Video Features G2 Esports Player Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winther 

On Aug. 28, KFC posted a video on Chinese social media Weibo for predicting the playoff results of the LPL Summer Split. The video features KFC’s esports virtual mascot KI Colone, and G2 Esports League of Legends player Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winther. 

KFC is one of several LPL sponsors, and KI Colonel represents the data analysis character during the competition. 

Recently, G2 Esports, Twitch streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Youtuber Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson, and AI-based game training company Aim Lab teamed up and promised to give $1M to UK-based charity Special Effect for the in-game skins in the Marios Party-esque battle royale game, Fall Guys Ultimate Knockout. Developer Mediatonic recently signed a deal with Bilibili to develop a mobile version of the game exclusively for China. 

Other Esports Business News:

  • On Sept.2, the Indian government announced that it blocked 118 mobile applications including Chinese searching application Baidu, and Tencent’s PUBG MOBILE and WeChat Work. This restraining order would heavily influence the Indian business of Chinese technology companies like Tencent, as well as esports teams, such as Fnatic and Team SoloMid who operate Indian PUBG MOBILE rosters. 
  • On Aug. 28, the Chinese conglomerate Nenking group, owner of the Overwatch League (OWL) team Guangzhou Charge established a new esports brand called “Ultra Prime” (UP). The brand will operate multiple esports businesses, including a young player training program, called “Ultra Prime Academy.”
  • On Aug.31, Xiaofei, owner of Chinese Dota 2 team Team Aster confirmed on his live stream that Chinese Dota 2 team Newbee and its players were actually match-fixed (cheating to lose) during the esports competition. The match-fixing accusation came out in May, and Dota 2 developer Valve and the game’s Chinese distributor Perfect Worlds have not made any comments on this at the time of writing, while Newbee was given a life-long ban by the Chinese Dota 2 Association (CDA) in China. 

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