The International e-Sports Federation (IeSF), an organization with the primary purpose of promoting esports as a real sport worldwide, has just partnered with Alibaba Sports Group (Alisports), the sports division of the world’s largest e-commerce company, Alibaba.
— IeSF (@IeSF_Master) July 26, 2016
An “exclusive strategic partnership” with three objectives
The announcement says the partnership has three main goals: First, working together towards esports being recognized as a real sport, a task that has been on IeSF’s agenda from the start.
Second, the two organizations plan to host an esports event open to amateurs and professional players.
This means that IeSF will fully support the World Electronic Sports Games (WESG), a series of monthly tournaments that Alisports announced in March.
Third, “both parties will create the unique IP.” This bit of information from the announcement lacks a clear definition for now.
Said IeSF President Byung Hun Jun:
“This partnership is one big step [for] IeSF. I believe IeSF and Alisports will maximize each other’s strength [with] this partnership. I also believe [an] e-Sports Stadium can be transformed to be a fashion place for youth. IeSF will make [an] effort to be with more e-Sports fans in more countries together with Alisports from now on.”
The IeSF has an excellent record of initiatives focused on helping esports reach mainstream acceptance. The most recent one — bringing esports to the Olympics — could be a major milestone in the future development of the competitive gaming industry.
Zhang Dazhong, CEO of Alisports, commented on the partnership:
“As the most authoritative international organization in e-sports industry, IeSF has been committed to promoting e-Sports movement into the mainstream, including pushing it into the Olympic Games, which is consistent with our ideal. We are honored to cooperate with IeSF as the exclusive global partners in [the] long term. I believe the two sides will jointly promote the development of the global e-Sports industry.”
According to the announcement, Alisports is committing 1 billion yuan ($149 million) for its endeavor into the esports industry. The Chinese company is also planning to build esports stadiums across China in the future.
Alibaba and esports
Alibaba Sports Group (ASG), Alibaba’s sports division, was launched in September 2015.
It first got involved in March through a partnership with YuuZoo Corporation, a Singapore-based social networking firm. Together, they launched the World Electronic Sports Games (WESG), a series of esports tournaments featuring Dota 2, CS:GO, StarCraft 2, and Hearthstone that started in April.
A $5.5 million investment by ASG ensured plenty of prize pool money.
Being backed by China’s largest e-commerce site — Alibaba boasted total assets of roughly $39.44 billion as of 2015 — will surely help esports grow even bigger.
China, with roughly 370 million gamers, has great potential for growth according to Min Yunhao, vice president of Alisports.
“We set up the WESG like an Olympic competition to help establish the tournament’s legitimacy right away and to promote esports like a sport, not just an entertainment,” he said.
IeSF bringing esports ahead
Besides the aforementioned bet on the Olympics, the IeSF has come far since its inception in 2009. Gaining experience and know-how on the go, the Korea-based organization already counts 47 member nations.
Being an official signatory of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), a member of The Association For International Sport for All (TAFISA), and working together with OCA (Olympic Council of Asia) already proves that the IeSF is going all-in for esports.
It remains to be seen soon how successful this partnership actually will be. In any case, it is very refreshing to see a dedicated organization such as the IeSF putting so much effort into making the esports industry even greater than it already is.
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