The Shanghai Esports Association signed deals with event partners to formally launch the 2019 Esports Shanghai Masters, the city’s first esports league, which will take place in Jing’an Sports Centre between Nov 28 and Dec 1 and will offer a prize fund of $700,000 (€634,600).
Wang Yong, the deputy secretary-general of the Shanghai Esports Association, said the aim of the Masters is to provide a neutral event platform in Shanghai that all game publishers can jointly participate, according to Shanghai Daily: “Generally, one game operator organises esports competitions on its own. But now we provide third-party services and referees for all of them and make the competitions like traditional sports games. It’s a new attempt.”
“We first won the support of the city’s sports bureau and it took us seven to eight months to communicate with game operators and get them involved.”
Wang added this event was a culmination of industry growth in Shanghai in recent years, saying to Xinhuanet: “A one-kilometer stretch of road in downtown Jing’an District is home to more than 20 esports companies, and you can meet and co-operate with companies in the same industrial area or even within the same building.”
Esports teams from Japan, South Korea, Europe and North America will take part alongside domestic teams, which include Chinese video sharing website Bilibili’s Hangzhou Spark and Chinese game publisher Netease’s Shanghai Dragons, with over a hundred players in total. These players will face off in events including Dungeon and Fighter (DNF) F1 World Championships and three new competitions in Overwatch, Warcraft III Reforged and League of Legends.
The four-day event will include an esports competition, and industry forum, an exhibition and a gala dinner. The association said besides competitions, it will also create an esports carnival with various online and offline activities.
Earlier this year the Shanghai government promised to invest $709m USD (€634m) over the next three years to support the local gaming and esports industry, which will be used to provide subsidies for companies, venues, streaming platforms, and event organisers. According to their policy, Shanghai aims to achieve this goal in the next three to five years, focusing on: esports content creation and technology development; esports training and education development; and esports infrastructure, including tournaments, media and venues.
Pony Ma, the chief executive officer and chairman of Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent said recently at the 2019 World Artificial Intelligence Conference according to Newsgroove: “We (Tencent) will fully support Shanghai to become the global esports city. Tencent’s six esports tournament series have taken place in Shanghai. In addition, over 50 Tencent related esports organizations have set up offices in the city.”
Tencent has partnered with state-owned sport organiser and promoter Juss Sports, and certified the Shanghai Oriental Sports Centre as a venue recommended for esport events.
Apart from Tencent, rival Chinese game publisher Netease have also announced infrastructure plans in Shanghai recently. In August, they announced construction of an esports park in Shanghai that will cost $725m (€648m).
Netease owns the distribution rights of esport franchises Healthstone, StarCraft and World of Warcraft in China.