League of Legends World Championship returns to China in 2020
Shanghai will also host Dota 2’s The International in 2019
One of the most esteemed esports tournaments -- the League of Legends World Championship (Worlds) -- will be held in China in 2020, said developer Riot Games.
This came just two months after Dota 2, a rival MOBA esports title, announced that the 9th The International Dota 2 Championship (TI9) will be coming to Shanghai next year. It was such a big deal to the city that the mayor of Shanghai herself made the announcement.
But this isn’t the first time that China will host Worlds. Beijing was home to Worlds 2017 just a year ago, which proved to be one of the most popular esports events ever.
The tournament consistently packed the Beijing National Stadium with over 40,000 fans during its semi-finals and Finals. The online viewership number was jaw-dropping, with over 80 million people tuning into the semifinals -- where South Korea’s SK Telecom T1 took down China’s Royal Never Give Up.
So maybe it’s not surprising that Worlds will return to China for the second time in its 10th season. Riot Games made the announcement on Thursday in the lead-up to the year’s Finals at Worlds, which is being held in South Korea this weekend.
The company also said that Europe and North America will host Worlds in 2019 and 2021, but information on stage-by-stage host cities and other details remain unknown at this time.
League of Legends and Dota 2 are the two main MOBA esports titles, with their tournaments having millions of dollars in total prize pools. This year, Dota 2’s TI8 featured a record-shattering total prize pool of US$25 million. This year’s Worlds also had a total prize pool of US$2.5 million.
Two of the most established esports tournaments coming to China in the coming two years shows the explosive growth that the country is seeing with its esports business. China’s esports market value has reportedly reached more than US$720 million last year and is estimated to grow to US$1.2 billion this year. By 2020, the market value is expected to exceed US$2.9 billion.
Meanwhile, this year’s Finals will take place this weekend between Europe’s most decorated esports team Fnatic and China’s super team Invictus Gaming, put together by “China’s Richest Son” Wang Sicong.