Photo by: Pandaily
The China Internet Association announced last Saturday its plans to create an Esports Work Council, the Esports Observer reports. The Council will look to “promote, reinforce, and standardize the esports industry” and “guide esports into a sustainable way.”
There’s little information yet available on what the Esports Work Council will do and how it will standardize the esports industry, but it’s undeniable that Chinese esports is in need of control. Esports is huge in China and there’s hardly a major discipline that the country isn’t involved in. According to a report from May 2018, one in every five people in China watches or plays an esport title.
In 2018, China became the best nation in League of Legends, with Royal Never Give Up sweeping all accolades up until Worlds, where Invictus Gaming took over to win the championship. The Chinese LPL is also the first fully franchised league in modern esports, paving the way for LCS, LEC and the Overwatch League. The latter league is also home to four franchises, including Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark and Shanghai Dragons.
China has a huge presence in Dota 2 as well, with the majority of veteran esports orgs having a stake in the game. China has won three of the eight The International championships and has played in seven of the grand finals. With teams like TYLOO and Vici Gaming, China is also creeping onto the CS:GO market.
The diversity of Chinese esports will thus make the standardization of Chinese Esports by this Esports Work Council challenging. The major leagues in Overwatch and League of Legends are under the control of their developers, Blizzard and Riot Games, which are also represented by different major players on the domestic digital market. Blizzard are partnered with NetEase, which also own the Shanghai Dragons, while Riot Games are a daughter company of Tencent, one of NetEase’s biggest competitors on the Chinese market.
At the same time, while CS:GO and Dota 2 go without much involvement from Valve, they are distributed via Steam, whose China version launched earlier this year in cooperation between Valve and Perfect World, another major player in the Chinese video game industry.
One thing that the Esports Work Council has going for it is the wide governmental support. According to Esports Observer’s report, the Council had the support of the Chinese Propaganda Department, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the General Administration of Sport of China.
The involvement of the latter two departments could mean help solve the visa issues for esports athletes — a problem China has been notorious for for years. Most recently, several teams had to withdraw from the WESG 2018 Finals, to be held in Chongqing, unable to obtain visas in time. Previous editions of WESG also had that same problem.