Alisports Group, the sports affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has completed a RMB1.2 billion (US$190.78 million) series A round led by Yunfeng Capital, an investment firm co-founded by Alibaba’s executive chairman Jack Ma.
China’s electronic sports (eSports), or competitive video games, industry generated RMB50.4 million (US$7 billion) in revenue in 2016, up 34.7% year-on-year, according to a report by China’s GPC, an industry group for game publishers.
Alisports Group, the sports affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., has announced a strategic partnership with the Olympic Council of Asia in an effort to bring electronic sports (eSports), or competitive video games, to the official sports program of the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
eSports will be an Official Sport at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou
HANGZHOU, China, April 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Alisports Group (Alisports), the comprehensive sports platform provider, has announced a strategic partnership with the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). Through this collaboration, the two will work together to bring Electronic Sports (eSports), or video games, to the official sports program of the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, introducing this emerging class of competition into the field of traditional sports.
Apart from the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, eSports has also been added to the 2017 Ashgabat Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG), and the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games. Leveraging its expertise in eSports promotion and event organization, Alisports, as OCA’s strategic partner, will be an active participator in helping expand the market for games organized by the association.
OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, said, "The Olympic Council of Asia is committed to the heritage, development and improvement of Asian sports, and we are extremely pleased about the strategic partnership with Alisports. We are sure that the extensive organizing capabilities of Alisports, and their experience in eSports, will assist OCA in developing all sports."
According to OCA, eSports to be contested at the 2017 AIMAG this September will include FIFA 2017, Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) and Real Time Attack (RTA) gaming types. These are the most popular gaming types among global eSports players and were incorporated into the World Electronic Sports Games (WESG), which was launched by Alisports last year and attracted players from over 100 countries.
Alisports actively promotes eSports and has a long-term goal of introducing these digital competitions into venues and events that have long been showcases for "traditional" sports. Zhang Dazhong, Founder & CEO of Alisports said, "It’s our pleasure to work with OCA and we would like to thank them for their faith in Alisports. In the future, we will work closely together to develop new modes of developing big games and events, and to provide sponsors with more opportunities and value. We look forward to presenting more exciting video game competitions to not only eSports lovers but also a global audience."
Zhang added that he expects eSports to eventually be featured at the Olympic Games, as digital games tournaments are being more professionally organized, and their competitions more accepted as mainstream entertainment. "It’s only a matter of time," he said.
About The Olympic Council of Asia
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) is the governing body that oversees all sports in Asia. It is one of the five continental associations recognized by the IOC.
OCA was formed in 1982 and has its permanent headquarters in Kuwait. The main objective of OCA is to develop sport, culture and the education of Asian youth as well as to promote international respect, friendship, goodwill & peace through sports.
About Alisports Group
Alisports Group (Alisports), founded in 2015 as Alibaba Sports Group by the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Goup, integrates e-commerce, media, marketing, video, home entertainment, cloud computing and other Internet-enabled technologies to form a sports platform that participates in different aspects of the professional sports industry, including sports copyrights, sports media, events, ticketing, and more.
Alisports leverages Alibaba Group’s vast e-commerce ecosystem, media resources and deep experience with China’s new media and sports sectors to create an Internet-based, consumer-centric sports platform that creates value for sports industry participants and enhances consumers and sports fans’ engagement with teams and brands.
Shanghai-based Alisports, the sports unit of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., is in the process of raising a RMB1.2 billion (US$170 million) series A round led by Yunfeng Capital, a private equity firm co-founded by Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma.
Competition embodies the "Spirit of Sport"
CHANGZHOU, China, Feb. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The Grand Finale of the 2016 World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) was held from January 12-15, 2017. Through four days of battles, Philippine team TNC took home the championship trophy in the game DOTA 2. A Filipino player, Staz, and a South Korean player, TY, earned the championship titles for Hearth Stone and StarCraft II respectively, while the French team EnVyUs won the last and much-celebrated game, CS:GO. The winning teams shared US$5.5 million in prize money.
WESG, backed by more than US$14.6 million investment from Alisports, has sent a shock wave through the e-sports industry since its launch in March 2016, not only due to the size of the investment, but also as a result of its innovative worldwide open audition and promotion mechanism and the "Spirit of Sport" that is based on fairness. Other than the World Cyber Games (WCG), WESG was the first e-sports competition to select players and hold competitions worldwide, opening a new chapter for the industry.
Through open auditions attended by tens of thousands of competitors at all skill levels, WESG has become the largest comprehensive competition attended by both professional and non-professional gamers. The competition also awarded winners with, in the aggregate, a generous US$5.5 million. Over 60,000 competitors from nearly 200 countries and regions, with an average age between 22 and 23, applied for entry. The final competition drew 6,000 spectators, a full-capacity audience for the venue.
To view WESG’s promotional video, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPLKCYPHP60
During the WESG Final Opening Ceremony, the competitors took to the stage carrying their respective national flags, demonstrating the pride they have in their countries. The competition results were calculated based on the performance of each team, reflecting Alisports’ efforts at experimenting with the concept of an "E-sports Olympics".
When commenting on the competition, Loda, a professional DOTA 2 player from Sweden and former head of the TI3 Alliance, a world champion team, said, "Unlike all the other competitions I have ever participated in, all the WESG competitors came here with the intention of proudly representing their country, rather than solely for their clubs’ benefits and the prizes. WESG is very different."
Alisports CEO Zhang Dazhong gave the first WESG a 90-point rating (on a 100-point scale) and disclosed that the next WESG will increase the number of events and be even bigger than the first one.
In addition, WESG launched its first anti-doping initiative for e-sports games, formally borrowing the concept of "Fair Play" from the traditional sports community and making it the fundamental rule for e-sports events. Despite challenges in the standardization and implementation of the approach, the effort to do so is expected to assure the development of a healthy environment for e-sports and pave the way for the sport to eventually become a part of the official Olympic Games.
For more WESG videos, please follow us on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcSgNfDNxvyisU-eCj9xyNg/featured
Landmark Agreement with Simulator Company Highlights Alisports Long-Term Commitment to Growing Golf in China
SAN DIEGO, July 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Full Swing Golf and Alisports have entered into a partnership to grow the game of golf in China. "We are extremely excited to partner with Full Swing to take a huge step forward in the effort to grow the game of golf in China," said CEO of Alisports Zhang Dazhong. "We believe Full Swing Golf’s unmatched technology and relationship with Tiger Woods will propel golf forward in China, allowing golfers greater accessibility to the game," added Dazhong. The partnership, intended to attract new and avid golfers to the sport, will include integrated marketing and cross-promotional programs with the simulator company.
"This is an amazing and exciting time for us at Full Swing Golf as we enter into this agreement with Alisports who share in our commitment to growing the game of golf and making it much more accessible for all the people of China," says Ryan Dotters CEO of Full Swing. "We deliver the best indoor golf experience in the simulator space. With our unique product offerings we can appeal to the top level professional, all the way to a young golfer just getting introduced to the game. Our arcade style games are all about fun and much less intimidating when swinging a club for the first time," added Dotters.
Full Swing plans to unveil the first Tiger Woods branded simulator offered as part of this partnership which they believe will be pivotal to help drive interest for golf in China as well as be a pivotal tool in getting more avid golfers into the simulator for the first time. "One of the reasons I wanted to work with Full Swing was their vision for the future and how they planned to change the landscape of golf," said Tiger Woods. "This new partnership demonstrates that, and also gives me the opportunity to work with Jack Ma who is someone I respect tremendously because of everything he has been able to accomplish in his life."
About Full Swing Golf
Full Swing Golf is a San Diego based company specializing in cutting edge golf simulation technology. The technology features state of the art ball tracking and offers clients 93 Championship Courses. Full Swing Golf, found in over 60 countries worldwide and optimizes the players experience with its real environment. The technology can be found in the homes of PGA TOUR Players including Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Padraig Harrington, Bill Haas, Hunter Mahan, Mark Wilson and Patrick Reed.
Alisports, founded in September 2015, is a sports platform established with the aim of placing the entire range of services from ticketing and broadcasting rights to rights management in one hand. It addresses the interests of both spectators and sportspersons. The utilization of internet-based technologies will play a decisive role in the transformation of the sports industry in China. Alisports is a subsidiary company of the Alibaba Group, the largest online and mobile commerce company in the world in terms of gross merchandise volume.