World-class eSports teams are in Shanghai to attend TI9, an eSports championship event with a top prize pool of US$33 million.
Shanghai is planning to build itself into a global eSports hub and top-level matches such as TI9 (The International Dota 2 Championships), a keen eSports audience and huge market potential will achieve that target, players, team managers and sponsors told the media on Monday.
China is one of the fastest-growing eSports markets, according to Nicole LaPointe Jameson, chief executive of Seattle-based eSports organization Evil Geniuses.
Compared with Western audiences, Chinese fans are more “straightforward and direct” in showing their passion, which creates a cool eSports culture, said Jonathan ”Loda” Berg, coach of the Alliance team from Sweden.
As a sponsor of the two teams, HK-listed Razer sees a big future for eSports.
“ESports means much more beyond just a gaming event,” said David Tse, Razer’s global eSports director. “Players have become true sports athletes and stars, especially in China and Asia with a bigger number of fans.”
The market for eSports in China is valued at more than 100 billion yuan (US$14.3 billion) a year, according to analysts.
Razer has established a global eSports division to support 18 teams competing in major eSports events and Tse hopes to have regular eSports events in China.
Razer is just one of many sponsors in the booming eSports sector.
For example, Chinese team LGD has more than 10 sponsors at the TI9 competition.
“Now we have home venues and sponsors, just like team Barcelona FC and an NBA team in eSports,” said Pan Fei, LGD’s general manager.
With Evil Geniuses and LGD in leading positions, TI9’s final session is on August 25.