Each month, sports digital agency Mailman rounds up the biggest industry news and insights from China’s esports scene, along with analysis on why it matters.
October 2023 was unforgettable in the history of Chinese League of Legends and Dota 2 esports. Three LPL teams — Weibo Gaming, Bilibili Gaming and Jing Dong Gaming — entered the semifinals of the League of Legends World Championship 2023 (Worlds 2023).
It has become the best result in LPL (China’s top-flight League of Legends league) history. Additionally, the Chinese national Dota 2 team won a gold medal at the 19th Hangzhou Asian Games against the Mongolia national team in a best-of-three, returning from a 0:1 disadvantage with a two-match win streak. Moreover, Chinese Dota 2 teams LGD Gaming and AzureRay achieved third and fourth place at Dota 2’s The International 2023 in Seattle. Both teams also received notable sponsorships before the event.
Among the top Chinese business news stories from October 2023: miHoYo’s ‘Honkai: Star Rail’ video game sponsored Dota 2 teams at The International, and a China StarCraft II competition; NineBot title sponsored LNG Esports for the Worlds 2023 Championship; and OPPO signed a partnership deal with Jing Dong Gaming.
Honkai: Star Rail sponsors Dota 2 teams
On October 3rd, Chinese Dota 2 teams LGD Gaming and AzureRay (AR) announced that they had received sponsorships from game developer miHoYo’s video game Honkai: Star Rail for Dota 2’s The International 2023 in Seattle, US. The Honkai: Star Rail logo was featured on both team jerseys. In addition, the logo was also featured alongside AR players’ in-game IDs.
On October 28, the Chinese StarCraft II competition World Team League (WTL) also announced that Honkai: Star Rail had become its chief sponsor.
It’s relatively rare to see a game sponsor another game’s esports teams and competitions. Honkai:Star Rail and Genshin Impact, both games developed by miHoYo, are not competitive games. It’s positive to see that Chinese Dota 2 and StarCraft II esports scenes can get financial support from one of the most profitable games in China. After Activision Blizzard and NetEase ended their partnership and closed the China server, WTL became China’s only StarCraft II online competition in the country.
OPPO partners with Jing Dong Gaming
On October 10th, Chinese smartphone brand OPPO announced that it signed a partnership deal with Chinese LPL team Jing Dong Gaming, becoming its official partner in Worlds 2023. OPPO is also the global partner of Worlds 2023 alongside MasterCard and Mercedes-Benz.
For Chinese brands like OPPO, it’s reasonable to pick Jing Dong Gaming as the target for sponsoring, considering it is LPL’s first seed, and has an e-commerce advantage. However, the team also got 1:3 eliminated by T1 Entertainment in Worlds 2023 semifinals. On November 19th.
LPL’s fourth seed Weibo Gaming will face Worlds-three-time winner T1 (LCK’s second seed) in the grand final. Weibo is backed by the Chinese social media platform Weibo and is sponsored by FAW Audi.
NineBot title sponsors China’s LPL team LNG
On October 12th, Chinese electric scooter brand NineBot announced that it signed a title sponsorship deal with Chinese LPL team LNG Esports. The NineBot brand will be featured on the team jerseys and LNG Esports has rebranded to ‘LNG NineBot’.
LNG NineBot competed in the Worlds 2023 as LPL’s third seed, and ended its journey after elimination to T1 Entertainment in the quarterfinals. We also saw British shoe brand Clarks on LNG NineBot team jerseys in Worlds 2023 as one of the sponsors. LNG NineBot’s parent company Li-Ning recently acquired a controlling stake in Clarks.