Last week, China welcomed its traditional Chinese festival, “Chun Ming,” the tradition that Chinese people return to their hometowns and mourn their ancestors. Due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, most of Chinese people can’t make that journey, but the government set up a day special for mourning lives lost in the pandemic.
There is some good news from China; the city of Wuhan ended a 76-day-long lockdown on April 8, and Hubei, the province of Wuhan, reported that the increasing infected number of COVID-19 cases became 0 on April 6, after two months.
Unfortunately, the pandemic situation outside of China has is still not optimistic. According to the newest data from Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, the global confirmed cases have passed 1.4K, and cases from the U.S have passed 400K at the time of writing.
With Wuhan, a geographic transportation junction in China, ending the lockdown, more esports teams and companies can welcome their Wuhan players and employees. In addition, tournament organizers started to share their plans for small and medium esports competitions.
Among the top stories in China’s esports industry: China’s esports and gaming industry suspended activities for one day of mourning the lives lost in the pandemic; NetEase will host the $280K Hearthstone Golden Team League, featuring eight teams; National Electronic Sports Tournaments (NEST) rebranded and released its sponsors and partners; and Mars Media and the Chinese Dota 2 Professional Association (CDA) will co-host the DPL-CDA Dota 2 Professional League.
Every week The Esports Observer presents the biggest esports business news in China including investments, acquisitions, sponsorships, and other major news from the region.
China’s Esports & Gaming Industry Suspends for COVID-19 Day of Mourning
Last week, China’s State Council recognized April 4 as a day of mourning for those who died in the COVID-19 pandemic, with all public entertainment canceled for the day.
During the day of mourning, all Chinese flags were flown at half-mast in the country, as well as in the overseas Chinese embassies. In addition, the air defense warning and vehicles’ horns blasted out across the country.
Though many public entertainment places, such as traditional sports venues, music concerts, film cinema, and karaoke still haven’t opened yet in the country, the gaming industry and some of the esports competitions are still working during the pandemic, thanks to online technologies.
Two major Chinese game publishers, Tencent and NetEase, first led the action to shut down all their gaming product services for the China region, including Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. Meanwhile, all companies’ logos went gray as a sign of solidarity, and all Chinese game publishers followed these actions.
In addition, livestreaming platforms Douyu and Huya closed their services, with all the online esports competitions suspended, including the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) and King Pro League (KPL). As The Esports Observer reported last week, Tencent has become the largest shareholder in Huya, and also owns majority shares in DouYu.
It should be noted that the gaming digital platform Steam did not close its service during the day of mourning. According to data on Steam Chart, the peak players of PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUND (PUBG) on April 4 reached 925K, and nearly passed the 1M mark. On April 5, the peak number became 558K.
PUBG still has not received game approval by the Chinese government, which means it doesn’t have a Chinese server, and was therefore not affected by the suspending policy.
NetEase to Host $280K International Hearthstone League
On April 7, Chinese game publisher NetEase announced that the company will host a new international Hearthstone competition in its esports system Golden Series – Hearthstone Golden Team League from May 3 to Oct. 6.
The league will feature a ￥2M RMB ($283K USD) total prize pool, and eight esports teams including Suning, LP, Lucky Future, Royal Never Give-Up, Invictus Gaming (IG), Team WE, VK E-Club (VK), and North American esports organization Team Liquid.
Each team will have three registered players in this league. It should be noted that the Chinese player Li “Liooon” Xiaomeng, the first female world champion in Hearthstone’s competitive history, will represent VK during this tournament. She won the Hearthstone Grand Masters Global Finals at BlizzCon 2019.
State-Owned National Electronic Sports Tournament Rebrands
On April 8, the General Administration of Sports of China (GASC) announced that its esports tournament brand – National Electronic Sports Tournament (NEST) – has rebranded with a new logo and slogan: “Make Digital Sport Great.”
The new logo features colors in red, orange, and blue. According to the announcement, the colors were designed to reflect the Olympic rings. Red reflects the passion of sport spirit, orange the rising esports industry, and blue the new technologies.
Other Esports Business News:
- On April 3, Chinese tournament organizer Mars Media announced that it partnered with the Chinese Dota 2 Professional Association (CDA) to merge the Dota 2 Professional League (DPL) and CDA League, becoming DPC-CDA Dota 2 Professional League. The original seventh edition of DPL would be canceled, but further details were not disclosed at the time of writing.
- On April 7, the Online Live Performance (Streaming) Branch – China Association of Performing Arts – released a blacklist for streamers. Due to being involved in illegal activities, 58 streamers, including four esports professional players, have been punished for a five-year ban from livestreaming. The association did not release the name of the four players.