2020 has been a major setback for many businesses in the Chinese esports industry and will not be forgotten for a long time. The world has experienced a big black swan event, the COVID-19 pandemic, over the course of this year.
Luckily, thanks to the successful management of the pandemic by the government and the Chinese people, the region is now a suitable place to host esports events with a live audience.
While most countries outside mainland China are still struggling to deal with the pandemic, the esports industry in China will continue to grow and maintain its “high-speed” storyline of development running in 2021.
Hoping for the Best, Planning for the Worst – The Chinese Esports
We have seen the return of the Chinese esports industry from the low of the pandemic in the past two months to host the biggest esports event of 2020, the League of Legends World Championship in Shanghai, and an investment of $100 million USD Series B for a Chinese esports company.
The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be a major destabilizing factor for China’s sports industry. Although many countries around the world have started to roll out vaccines, there is still a long way to go before the pandemic is truly under control. Humanity should always prepare for the worst in the presence of coronaviruses, and hope for the best.
Small, increasing cases of infection could easily postpone a tournament or even cancel an event for the Chinese esports industry. For instance, in Chengdu, the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) All-Star event was postponed due to the city finding five new cases of COVID-19 infection three days prior to the event.
Most Chinese people, put aside western and Chinese political ideologies, listen to the government and respect the decisions made by the government, even if a group of people have to sacrifice their own advantages. This is the main reason why China’s esports industry will recover from the pandemic quickly.
More sports competitions with live audiences will be held in China in 2021. Expansion of game publishers and tournament organizers abroad will slow down. Tencent, China’s largest game publisher, announced in November that the company will invest $30.4 million to boost the Peacekeeper Elite sports ecosystem in 2021, which has doubled its commitment since 2020.
Tencent, on the one hand, is suffering from the loss of the PUBG MOBILE market in India. On the other, It is still a COVID-19 major concern for Tencent to host tournaments outside of China. Many types of revenue streams in the esports ecosystem, such as sponsorships, ticket sales, and merchandise, depend on offline venues and exposure.
China became the only offline location to host the $100K DreamHack WarCraft III Championship in December of 2021 in ESL’s full 2021/2022 tournament calendar for its ESL Pro Tour StarCraft II and WarCraft III.
Whatever the result, in the long term there will be a lot more discussion on esports.