Further confirmation that the esports market is booming in the face of the pandemic comes today with news that VSPN (Versus Programming Network), the total solution provider for the sport, has won nearly $ 100 million in a Series B funding round he led Tencent Holdings . Other investors involved in the round are Tiantu Capital, SIG (Susquehanna International Group) and Kuaishou. The funding round will help improve sports products and their ecosystems in China and across Asia.
VSPN was founded in 2016 and is headquartered in Shanghai. The company was one of the earliest pioneers in organizing esports tournaments and creating content outside of Asia. It has since expanded to other companies, including running offline.
In a statement, Dino Ying, CEO of VSPN (see our exclusive interview) said: “We are excited to announce this final round of funding. Thanks to the policy in support of Shanghai as a global center for sport and the fact that Beijing, Chengdu and Xi'an express confidence in the development of the sport, VSPN has grown rapidly in recent years. After this round of financing, we look forward to building an esports research institute, an esports cultural park and expanding it worldwide. VSPN has a long-term vision and is dedicated to the sustainable development of the global esports ecosystem. "
Mars Hou, General Manager of Tencent Esports, commented, "VSPN's long-term corporate vision and leadership position in esports production are critical for Tencent to optimize the layout of the evolution of the esports industry."
We had an indication that Tencent might invest in VSPN when Mark Ren, COO of Tencent Holdings, made a public statement in March this year that Tencent would be offering higher quality esports competitions in partnership with tournament organizers like VSPN.
As we discovered in August, Tencent, already the world's largest game maker, Douyu and Huya, have consolidated previously competing live streaming sites focused on video games.
In other words, Tencent's investment in VSPN shows that the market is doubling again in the esports market.
This Series B funding round comes four years after VSPN's 2016 Series A funding round, led by Focus Media Network in conjunction with the China Jianteng Sports Industry Fund, Guangdian Capital, and Averest Capital.
Now VSPN is the main tournament organizer and broadcaster for international PUBG MOBILE competitions and China's top competitions for Honor of Kings, PUBG, Peacekeeper Elite, CrossFire, FIFA, QQ Speed and Clash Royale. This counts 12,000 hours of original content. The company has worked with over 70% of China's esports tournaments.
In March, another great esports player, ESL, has partnered with Tencent to be part of the PUBG Mobile Esports Circuit for 2020.
In addition to its core business of esports tournaments and content production, VSPN has branded esports venues in Chengdu, Xi'an and Shanghai. In May, VSPN launched its first overseas venue, V. SPACE, in Seoul, South Korea.
And even offline events are returning. VSPN hosted the first major esports event with an offline audience in August this year. And the LOL S10 event will open 6,000 tickets. However, all tournaments are run under strict COVID-19 prevention measures and approval processes from the Chinese government, and not all esports events allow offline audiences. As a rule, only high-ranking students are admitted.
VSPN said it will continue to focus on building a short-form video ecosystem for sports, improve the quality of esports content creation, and reach more users across different channels. VSPN currently employs more than 1,000 people in five business areas.