News Roundup: Worlds 2020

Vol 3.33 | November 13, 2020

Hello Esports Enthusiasts!

I’ve finally moved over from Mailchimp to Substack. Hope you like the new platform and format.

The purpose of this newsletter remains the same: to provide a quickly digestible weekly news roundup from China’s esports industry, with links to sources in English and Chinese for those who want a deeper dive. I’ll also send out the occasional standalone note when I think a topic could benefit from a longer treatment.

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Worlds 2020 Roundup

October 2020 was pretty much China Esports Month, due to the massive gravity of the 10th annual League of Legends World Championships (aka “Worlds 2020”) held in Shanghai from September 25 through October 31. As promised in Vol 3.32, I decided to push Worlds 2020 news into a standalone issue so that it would not overwhelm the other news. And so:

The AR-heavy Worlds 2020 Finals Opening Ceremony was the first live event at Shanghai’s new Pudong Football Stadium, home to SIPG F.C.

Finals

South Korea’s Damwon Gaming beat China’s Suning Gaming (SG) for the 2020 Summoner’s Cup, in front of a live crowd of 6,312, the first event at Shanghai Pudong Football Stadium and the biggest live event to be held in China after the pandemic began. Highlights:

Play-Ins, Groups, and Playoffs

Worlds 2020 opened with the Play-Ins Stage Open, live from Shanghai Media Tech’s cloud production studio [SMT云创空间]. Each stage of the competition had its own open, but IMHO the first one most effectively demonstrated the groundbreaking XR production.

Record Number of New Partnerships

2020 Worlds acquired 15 global brands as sponsors, compared to 8 last year. Teams that made it to Worlds did very well, with JDG claiming the most sponsors with 15. While some team sponsors are long-standing, many hopped on just before or even during Worlds, with deals closing as teams advanced. Highlights include:

One Last Thought

What Riot and its partners have pulled off in the midst of a global pandemic is nothing short of incredible, but it is also a reflection of Shanghai’s dedication to “building the Global Esports Capital.”

Back in February, with China in complete lockdown due to COVID-19, despite widespread fear and uncertainty, the Shanghai municipal government held a press conference to affirm its support for the local esports industry, and to more specifically affirm its commitment to finding a way to hold Worlds. It was not clear how that was going to happen, especially when many around the world incorrectly considered COVID-19 a “China problem”, and the WHO had not even declared it a global pandemic. In June, despite the full blown global pandemic, Shanghai officials came out and once again declared that Worlds 2020 would be held on schedule. And they were right.

Worlds 2020 was always meant as an opportunity for Shanghai to shine, but it is remarkable how it played out, and will likely be considered a historic milestone in the global development of esports. Keep in mind that Worlds 2021 will return to China for the bigger multi-city tournament format that was originally planned!

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