FunPlus Phoenix Partners With Lenovo, Bixin Sponsors Vici Gaming

Over the past week, the Chinese esports industry has seen several sponsorships and partnerships between brands and esports teams. At a glance, it almost feels like business as usual for China’s esports industry, with new deals signed between brands and top-level teams. Most notably, FunPlus Phoenix signed a global partnership with German automaker BMW, alongside four other international teams. 

Meanwhile, the number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continues to grow in countries outside of China. As the global confirmed cases have passed 2.5M, and cases in the U.S have passed 820K, at the time of writing. 

Among the top stories in China’s esports industry: FunPlus Phoenix signed a hardware partnership with Lenovo Legion; Chinese gaming social application Bixin signed a sponsorship deal with Vici Gaming’s Dota 2 team; and German keyboard brand Cherry sponsored esports organization Old Boys. 

Every week The Esports Observer presents the biggest esports business news in China including investments, acquisitions, sponsorships, and other major news from the region. 

FPX Signs Partnerships With Lenovo Legion and BMW

On April 16, the esports industry embraced automobile brand BMW, which signed global partnership deals with five top international esports organizations, including Cloud 9, G2 Esports, T1 Entertainment & Sports, Fnatic, and Chinese esports organization FunPlus Phoenix (FPX). 

“We are honored to have BMW, the world-class brand in the global esports industry,” Chun Li, the CEO of FPX told The Esports Observer. “I believe the partnership will help us create more innovative content. FPX and BMW will work closely in the digital sports area.”

One day after the “BMW X FPX” partnership, FPX signed another deal with Chinese hardware brand Lenovo. Lenovo’s Legion gaming subsidiary will act as FPX’s official hardware partner. Chun also told The Esports Observer that the Lenovo Legion brand will feature on FPX’s team jersey. 

In January, FPX was nominated by China Central Television (CCTV) as one of country’s nine most successful sports teams in 2019. The team won the League of Legends World Championships in Paris last year, becoming the second team in a row to win the trophy for China. 

Before FPX won the World Championship, it only had three sponsorship deals including livestreaming platform Huya, Chinese restaurant Cool Fish, and gaming social media Bixin. After this victory, Chinese chip brand Oish, smartphone brand OPPO, BMW, and Lenovo have joined its sponsor list. 

Gaming Social Media Bixin Sponsors Vici Gaming Dota 2 Squad

On April 22 Chinese esports organization Vici Gaming (VG) announced that it had signed a sponsorship deal with Chinese gaming social media network Bixin.

According to the announcement, the sponsorship will be exclusively for VG’s Dota 2 team, and the Bixin logo will be featured on the team jersey. 

Bixin is the largest Chinese social network for gamers. It allows players to pay others for play sessions. It has sponsored esports organizations such as Royal Never Give-Up (RNG), FPX, and Invictus Gaming

On the same day, Sicong Wang, the founder of Invictus Gaming and venture capital firm Pusi Capital, posted on his social media page that he became a coach on the Bixin platform. Players can choose him and pay ¥666 RMB ($94 USD) for one-hour coaching. This has led to a massive discussion among China’s netizens, as Sicong has 41M followers, and had not posted anything in the past six months.

In fact, Sicong also has a business connection with Bixin; his VC Pusi Capital owns 2.05% shares of Bixin’s parent company Shanghai Yupaopao Information Technology Ltd. The company also owns one of the largest Chinese internet coffee bar brands, WYWK.

Keyboard Brand Cherry Sponsors Old Boys

On April 16, German keyboard brand Cherry signed a sponsorship deal with Chinese esports organization Old Boys (OB). Cherry will sponsor OB’s two Dota 2 teams Blaze and Ocean. 

OB has a strong following in China. It was founded by 10 Chinese Dota 2 streamers who were former professional players. Some of these have even won The International, the de facto World Championship for Dota 2. For example, Jiang “YYF” Cen, the co-founder of OB, won The International 2012 as an Invictus Gaming player. He was officially recognized as one of the top 10 streamers on DouYu, and went to New York as a guest of DouYu’s when the company first went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Other Esports Business News:

  • On April 20 TJ Sports announced that the official FPX 2019 World Champion merchandise would be selling on the League of Legends official online store, starting  April 23.
  • On April 17 North American esports organization Evil Geniuses announced that it opened its official Weibo account. The account will be focusing on bringing the team’s esports information mainly on Dota 2, League of Legends, Fortnite, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).
  • On April 18 Chinese esports organization WLG announced that it had created an esports racing division, and would join the F1 Esports Series China Championship.
  • Wenyi Zhang, marketing manager of VSPN told The Esports Observer that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tencent has decided to let it take charge of hosting the PUBG MOBILE Pro League (PMPL) Southeast Asia region. The tournament will resume May 1-3. 

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