In a momentous event for PC esports in China, Riot Games made significant strides in June 2023 by disclosing further details about its VALORANT China market plan through a press conference held in Shanghai.
Notable business stories in June included VALORANT receiving an official launch date in China, British shoe brand Clarks entering a sponsorship agreement with China’s LPL team LNG, and Wolves Esports announcing the establishment of its Naraka Bladepoint and Identity V divisions in Chengdu, China.
Riot Games Sets July 12th as Official VALORANT Launch Date
On June 28th, Riot Games organized a press conference in Shanghai, announcing that VALORANT’s official launch date in China would be July 12th. Additionally, during his speech, Riot Games COO Whalen Rozelle expressed the company’s “hope” to include China in the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) in 2024.
This announcement marks a significant milestone for Riot Games’ game and esports operations in China, as Chinese VALORANT players can finally access the game, seven months after receiving approval from China’s National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA).
VALORANT has garnered substantial attention within China’s esports industry and is widely recognized as the next prominent PC esports title in the country. Presently, Chinese teams such as Royal Never Give-Up (RNG), EDG, Tyloo, Weibo Gaming (WBG), Bilibili Gaming (BLG), and FunPlus Phoenix (FPX) have established VALORANT divisions and are currently competing in the Valorant Champions Qualifiers from July 3rd to 14th. It is anticipated that more teams and brands will venture into China’s Valorant esports scene.
Wolves Esports Establishes Naraka Bladepoint and Identity V Division in Chengdu
On June 8th, Wolves Esports, the esports branch of British football club Wolverhampton Wanderers, announced the establishment of its Naraka Bladepoint and Identity V divisions in Chengdu’s Jinniu district. When competing in Naraka Bladepoint and Identity V, the team’s branding will include the city’s name, hence becoming Chengdu Wolves.
Naraka Bladepoint and Identity V esports are developed and operated by NetEase, China’s second-largest game publisher, while Wolves Esports’ parent company, Fosun Group, also holds interests in Chengdu. It is highly likely that NetEase and Wolves Esports will host offline activities in Chengdu, capitalizing on the city’s potential.
Furthermore, Wolves Esports’ Honor of Kings division is based in Chongqing, a city in close proximity to Chengdu, both of which are considered core economic centers of Western China. Geographically, Wolves Esports has taken the lead in esports operations in Western China.
Clarks Sponsors China’s LPL Team LNG
Last month, Clarks, the renowned British shoe brand, announced a strategic partnership with China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL) team LNG, becoming its sponsor. As part of the agreement, the Clarks logo will be prominently displayed on the left shoulder of the team’s jerseys.
LNG, which is owned by Chinese apparel brand Li-Ning, took over as the exclusive apparel and shoe sponsor of LPL earlier this year, succeeding Nike. Consequently, LNG players will not wear Clarks-branded shoes during competitions. It is worth noting that Li-Ning also holds control over Clarks, having acquired a controlling stake from China Viva Group in 2022. This alignment may have contributed to the approval of the sponsorship deal by the LPL and Li-Ning.
The entrance of an international non-endemic brand into China’s esports market signifies positive news for the country’s esports industry.
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