THE seemingly unstoppable rise of e-sports shows no sign of abating – with plans announced to build a network of nine stadiums in cities across China.
The South China Morning Post has reported that Hong Kong-based New World Development has teamed up with Asia’s leading mobile e-sports brand, Hero Entertainment, to build the stadiums in its K11 malls.
The K11s in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Wuhan, Ningbo, Tianjin, Shanghai and Guangzhou will then host, among other events, Hero Entertainment’s Hero Pro League.
The plan, aimed at offering millennials and young online gamers a “game-changing” retail experience, is part of a 10-year strategy between K11 and Hero.
The retail brand will become the exclusive industry partner of Hero Entertainment, which is the second largest mobile e-sports operator in China with more than 400 million registered users.
K11 founder Adrian Cheng said: “The booming e-sports sector is fast becoming the next big growth market, a cultural event popular among the new generation.”
E-sports will make its debut as a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou and forecasts have suggested the global e-sports market will jump 41 percent to US$696 million this year.
China – with 15 percent of the global market – is the second largest market after the United States, and the Bird’s Nest Stadium will host the League of Legends World Championship later this year.
Hong Kong, whose K11 mall will be able to host large-scale international competitions, is hoping to maximise the business potential of the genre’s rise.
The city’s tourist board staged its first e-sports and music festival in August, drawing 50,000 gamers and K-pop fans.