Suning Gaming (SN), an e-sports team owned by Chinese retail giant Suning (002024.SZ), was defeated by League of Legends Champions Korea (LPK) representative DAMWON Gaming (DWG) with a score of 1-3 at this year’s LoL championships finals on October 31. However, as a dark horse in the race, SN earned both an overwhelming reception from fans and massive traffic for its owner, Suning, ahead of China’s “Double 11” shopping festival.
The final match of the tournament’s 10th season (S10) took place in Shanghai’s Pudong Football Stadium on Saturday night. The event was livestreamed on video-sharing platform Bilibili and garnered more than 300 million viewers at its peak, according to the company. It was Korea’s first championship in three years and the country’s sixth title in history.
SN was the third seed in China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL), after Top Esports (TES) and JD.com’s JD Gaming (JDG), but managed to enter the grand final. Chinese e-sports fans cheered for SN’s tougher-than-expected performance in S10. “We will be back next year as an even more amazing lion cub,” SN, whose mascot is a lion cub, posted on microblogging site Weibo on Saturday. “If defeat were not so painful, victory would not be so desirable. Keep fighting!” read a top comment.
“Sorry, we will return next year,” posted SN’s player Bin after the game.
“Everyone will remember your pentakill,” a fan commented below. Bin recorded the first “pentakill”, which means five kills in short succession, on the world finals stage.
“Thank you all for your support of SN!” posted Zhang Kangyang, VP of Suning and Suning founder Zhang Jindong’s son, on Weibo. “You guys really don’t have to comfort us, it’s not my first time experiencing a loss. Isn’t that the beauty of competitive sports?”
The Chinese e-sports industry, with an estimated market size of RMB 160 billion (USD 23.9 billion), has seen a spate of big-name entrants. Apart from entertainment conglomerates like Tencent, Kuaishou, Bilibili, and Weibo, e-commerce giants also set sights on the market, both from the potential of e-sports itself but also the huge branding power it could generate among younger customers.
Earlier in October, underdog SN beat JDG, owned by JD.com (NASDAQ: JD), with a score of 3-1, expanding the JD-Suning rivalry beyond retail. Both companies, which specialize in phones, computers, and other consumer electronics, have poured hundreds of millions yuan into e-sports in order to grab attention from young consumers.
In the first three quarters of 2020, the sales volume from online channels operated by Suning.com reached RMB 202.6 billion (USD 30.27 billion), up 18.15% year-on-year (YoY), making up 69% of all sales, according to Suning.com’s latest earnings report released on October 30, which highlighted the growth of its e-commerce business.
This year’s Double 11 has already kicked off at the beginning of November, with Taobao, JD.com, and Suning.com sending out piles of vouchers and promoting deals. Although the LoL championship came to an end, the competition in the e-commerce market has just begun.