China Esports Weekly: Former League of Legends Player Uzi Joins Elephant Goose Media, Tencent Announces $260K Teamfight Tactics Competition

As the traditional Chinese New Year celebration comes to an end, we are officially welcoming in the Year of the Ox. This week, the Chinese esports industry witnessed several partnerships and key developments in leagues and tournaments.

Among the top stories: Jian “Uzi” Zihao announced he will join Elephant Goose Meida, which is one of the fastest-growing live game broadcasting MCN agencies in China, and enjoys the support of Tencent as its largest shareholder; Tencent announced $260K USD Teamfight Tactics competition it calls the Funiu Cup Challenge; the Overwatch League officially kicked off its 2021 season with a total prize pool of $4.25M USD.

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Jian ‘Uzi’ Zihao Joins Chinese Multi-Channel Network Elephant Goose Media

Jian “Uzi” Zihao has officially announced the termination of his commercial contract and brokerage agreement with Chinese esports organization Royal Never Give-Up (RNG), and has joined the Chinese multi-channel network (MCN) Elephant Goose Media, one of the largest live game broadcasting MCN agencies in the country.

Uzi, the Chinese legendary esports player of League of Legends, announced his departure from RNG in June of 2020, and began streaming on Chinese live video platform DouYu. As one of the most iconic esports players in China, it has been widely discussed as to whether Zihao would come back as a professional player, due to the 2021 League of Legends World Championship being hosted in China again.

There are generally two contracts between professional esports players and their organization, namely a player agreement and a brokerage agreement. The former determines which team the player competes for, and the latter includes all commercial activities outside the game such as streaming and commercial endorsement. Since Zihao’s brokerage agreement has been transferred to Elephant Goose Media, even if Zihao is returning again as a professional player, his player value and commercial value will be split. 

In addition, alongside his competitive gaming as a player, Zihao has massive commercial value in China. He had been interviewed by China Central Television (CCTV) multiple times and has featured in Nike’s exclusive esports commercials. In December of 2020, Zihao also signed a non-endemic endorsement deal with Raclen, a shampoo brand managed by Chinese commodity company LaFane.

Tencent Announces $260K Teamfight Tactics Competition Called the Funiu Cup Challenge

Tencent Games announced the company will host a Teamfight Tactics competition, dubbed the Funiu Cup Challenge, to take place between March 25-28 and featuring 16 players and a ¥1.66M RMB ($260K) total prize pool. The winner will take home ¥1M RMB ($154K). As the first official Chinese Teamfight Tactics tournament in S4, the Funiu Cup Challenge will last for two months, with the top five players qualifying for a global competition called the Riot Games’ Fates Championship.

The Teamfight Tactics: Fates Championship will take place online from April 7-9 with regional qualifiers already underway across the world. It will feature 24 players and a total prize pool of $250K.

“Teamfight Tactics continues to be one of our fastest-growing titles due to its accessibility and depth,” said Riot Games senior director of esports Whalen Rozelle. “To meet the massive demand for organized competition, for the Fates Championship we increased both the prize pool and the number of players who can qualify for the event. We also will explore new ways to further celebrate the esport globally.”

Looking back to 2012, during The International hosted by Valve when dota2 owned the highest prize pool of $1M split by a five person team, it is clear how fast the esports industry has been growing.

Other Esports Business News: 

  • The Overwatch League officially kicked off its 2021 season on April 16, featuring a $4.25M USD total prize pool, with the Grand Final winner earning $1.5M. Each team will play 16 regular-season qualification matches with additional contests spread across four tournaments.
  • Hangzhou Asian Games Committee announced that the Hangzhou Downtown Venue will be the official competition place for events in the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games. The 2022 Asian Games are scheduled to run from Sep 10-25, 2022.