Last week, Chinese Peacekeeper Elite team Titan Esports Club (TEC) won the first week of competitions in the Peace Elite League, and took home its first one million yuan in prize money. TEC was founded by Chinese traditional media outlet Titan Sports Media Group.
In addition, China’s esports industry has also recently encountered the dark side of League of Legends esports. On one hand, Dell’s gaming PC and laptop brand Alienware ended the sponsorship deal with Riot Games for the League of Legends World Championship due to “concern with the game developer’s public image amid harassment claims and other controversies,” according to a report from Dot Esports. On the other hand, the match-fixing accusations and investigations from China’s League of Legends Development League (LDL) have been widely discussed across the League of Legends community.
Among the top stories in the Chinese esports industry: the development division of the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) was suspended until further notice in the wake of alleged match-fixing scandal; Newzoo partnered with eStar Victory Five Esports Group (ESVF) to provide data analytics support; Peace Elite League (PEL) revealed the league’s 2021 sponsors; and the city of Shaoxing announced its first city-affiliated esports team.
League of Legends Development League Suspended Indefinitely Due to Match-Fixing Allegations
The League of Legends Development League (LDL), China’s secondary League of Legends tournament, announced it would go through a comprehensive overhaul, an incident likely due to recent accusations of matching-fixing . All matches have been postponed indefinitely.
The match-fixing scandal involving FunPlus Phoenix’s jungler Zhou “Bo” Yang-Bo, who served for eStar Young while he was in the LDL, was considered a major contributor to the suspension of LDL and subsequent investigations. A string of match-fixing scandals have unfolded in the LPL since 2020. Rogue Warriors (RW), one of the LPL franchised teams, received a severe warning for failing to prevent its player Wang “WeiYan” Xiang from participating in match-fixing activities and was fined three million yuan (about $420,000 US dollars) for an attempt to cover up the incident. The behaviour of game manipulation is even more widespread in LDL. Three months into 2021, there have already been several punishments imposed for misconduct related to foul play, most of which were carried out by lower-tier teams.
While traditional sports are also prone to match-fixing, some key characteristics about esports increase the risk – the illegal gambling economy being one of them. It is especially the case for LDL. Despite serving as the talent pool for LPL, LDL’s salary levels, sponsorship opportunities, and media exposure are not comparable to those of LPL. Most LDL teams are made of younger players who are particularly vulnerable to betting-related match manipulations and are susceptible to committing illegal conduct to make “quick money”.
The prevalence of match-fixing has long posed problems for professional esports. Essentially, match-fixing is a resource issue. As long as LDL teams and players are only making a small fraction of their LPL counterparts, the temptation for them to engage in illegally incentivized activities related to the competitive scene will remain high. As such, in addition to a thorough examination of the match-fixing culture within the league, a holistic scrutiny of the entire ecosystem is necessary. Unless fundamental changes are made to ensure the sustainability of LDL, another suspension is likely to loom ahead.
Newzoo Partners With eStar Victory Five Esports Group
Newzoo, a consulting firm focusing on market insights and analytics for digital games and esports, has signed a partnership deal with Chinese esports organization eStar Victory Five Esports Group (ESVF), which is itself a joint venture between Chinese esports organization eStar Gaming and Victory Five (V5). Newzoo will offer data and analytics services in support of ESVF’s international expansion and outreach. In return, ESVF will provide Newzoo access to first-hand data and information regarding the dynamic Chinese esports industry.
The strategic partnership opens new opportunities for both parties to effectively target existing and potential clients, identify current and emerging competitors, and make sound operational and financial decisions.
Other Esports Business News
- Peacekeeper Elite esports disclosed a list of sponsors for its upcoming PEL 2021. A total of eight brands will support this year’s professional actions of Peacekeeper Elite, including OPPO, Warhorse, Buick, Snapdragon, GOGO, JingDong, Suansuanru, and Stride.
- SZG Esports has teamed up with the city of Shaoxing . The new Shaoxing SZG Esports marks the first esports team for the city, which will compete in the King G-League (KGL), the development league of King Pro League (KPL). The rebranding effort was supported by Shaoxing Sports Bureau.