Alibaba, China's leading e-commerce company, has signed a deal with YuuZoo to launch a massive eSports initiative across China in 2016.
YuuZoo, which is listed in Singapore, has experience in organising Chinese eSports events through its YuuGames subsidiary. It was the company behind the Electronic Sports China Cup and China Internet Gaming, both of which were organised in conjunction with, "Chinese government entities."
Now, Alibaba is expanding its AliSports division - which launched in September last year - to encompass eSports, paying YuuGames a "multi-million US dollar fee" to run AliSports' World Electronic Sport Games (WESG) tournament and manage its eSports Club Competition Centres, of which there are 20 spread across China. Alibaba is investing ¥100 million ($15.5 million / €13.6 million) in WESG alone. The tournament will start this month, with participants competing for ¥35.6 million ($5.5 million / €4.8 million) in prize money.
AliSports and YuuGames are planning to launch 1200 eSports events across 15 Chinese cities this year alone. According to data included in an official statement about the deal, there are around 100 million eSports fans in China.
"Sports is a multibillion dollar business in China, with massive growth potential," said Zhang Dazhong, CEO of AliSports, in a statement. "That is why Alibaba is investing heavily in this vertical. Linking sport and technology enhances the quality of life. That is what we want to do through AliSports."
That AliSports exists is an outcome of a larger push within China to grow its sports industries. According to an article from Xinhuanet, in 2014 the country's government marked development of sports and fitness as a key national strategy, with a goal of raising, "the sector's annual output to ¥5 trillion ($813.8 billion) by 2025."