Last week, China’s esports industry saw several significant partnerships and sponsorships.
Among the top stories: Chinese esports total solutions provider VSPN acquired Chinese live-streaming talent agency Famulei as an independent brand; China’s top League of Legends competition League of Legends Pro League (LPL) signed a sponsorship deal with machine oil brand Mobil Super, although the recent statement by Nike alleging forced labor in Xinjiang cast a shadow on sponsorship.
The Importance of Esports Influencers: VSPN Acquired Chinese Livestreaming Talent Agency Famulei
Shortly after a $60 million B+ round of funding, Shanghai-based esports total solutions provider Versus Programming Network (VSPN) announced Monday that it had completed the acquisition of Chinese live-streaming talent agency Famulei. According to the announcement, Famulei will operate as an independent brand under VSPN, alongside the production company Banana Gaming & Media.
The specific financial terms of the acquisition deal were not disclosed.
In addition, VSPN will launch its new matrix business VSPN+, a youth cultural label that focuses on livestream talents, diversified esports content, and KOL monetization, according to the company statement on LinkedIn.
Zhou “Zax” Hao, the CEO of Famulei will serve as the vice-chairman of VSPN’s strategy committee, cooperating with Sicong Wang, the CEO of Banana Gaming & Media, and VSPN president Linji Teng.
Famulei operates a talent management business in streaming, marketing sponsorship, licensing and e-commerce. They have had partnerships with multiple overseas esports teams including T1 Entertainment & Sports, DK, Gen.G Esports, Team Liquid, and have worked with renowned professional players – Ruofeng, Strawberry, Smile, Doinb, GimGoon, Faker, Sambty and Mayumi – and esports commentators – Wang Duoduo, Teacher Ma, Luo Xin and 957 – from a range of different gaming categories.
VSPN has secured over $160 million in series B and B+ funding rounds, led by Tencent and Prospect Avenue Capital (PAC). VSPN states that its long-term goal is to work with Famulei and Banana Gaming & Media to further strengthen its global reach.
Exxon Mobil Super Sponsors League of Legends Pro League
With the 2021 LPL spring season coming to an end, and just before the playoffs kicked off, LPL announced its sponsorship deal with Exxon Mobil Corporation’s machine oil brand Mobil Super. This is the first time a machine oil brand signed a sponsorship deal with LPL, though the oil and gas company’s interest in esports is not new.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
New sponsorships in esports leagues are usually announced before the season, but the “LPL X Mobil Super” deal was announced in the middle of the regular season and the playoffs. It also has shown that LPL offers an attractive opportunity to the brand.
However, LPL was found to have blocked the Nike logo during the spring split broadcast, replacing it with a black strip displaying the name LPL. Retail giant Nike’s recent statement expressing concern over the alleged use of Uighur forced labor in cotton production has initiated a huge wave of backlash against the company in China. LPL holds a close partnership with Nike as one of the League’s main sponsors. Although LPL is extremely appealing to international brands, public opinion has an unavoidable impact on esports sponsorship. It’s still not clear how LPL and Nike will handle the sponsorship.
Other Esports Business News
- Chinese esports organization eStar Gaming League of Legends division announced that the team has rebranded to Ultra Prime (UP), an esports brand of conglomerate Nenking Group, alongside its Overwatch League team Guangzhou Charge.
- Japanese company Beifu signed a sponsorship deal with the LPL team RA. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The deal aims to improve players’ shoulder and neck muscle health. Beifu provides healthcare products for a comfortable lifestyle, including baby and maternity products, magnetic collars, and compression socks.