Chinese conglomerate Tencent has led an investment round for VSPN, a leading esports tournament organiser in China, which totalled $100m.
VSPN started out hosting the King Pro League, a leading competition for Honor of Kings, in 2016, but they have expanded from mobile games quickly.
The $100m Series B funding round for VSPN also saw participation from Tiantu Capital, Susquehanna International Group, and Kuaishou.
This is the first round of funding that the tournament organizer has sought since the initial investment they received when launching four years ago. The money will go towards building an esports research institute, an esports culture park, and fueling further growth for their hosting efforts.
VSPN hosts the popular King Pro League.
VSPN will also look to expand their content creation capabilities, including “building an esports short-form video ecosystem.”
Even before raising $100m, the company has witnessed explosive growth. In 2016, they hosted events for CrossFire, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Honor of Kings, and Battle of Balls. The next year, they established themselves as a leader in the Chinese esports market, continuing with the aforementioned titles and even hosting Riot Games’ prestigious LPL.
In 2018, VSPN expanded into Greater China, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. This included hosting events for major titles such as PUBG Mobile and FIFA Online, as well as League of Legends’ Rift Rivals competition for teams across the LPL, LCK, and LMS.
“Tencent is glad to support VSPN,” said Mars Hou, general manager of Tencent Esports. “VSPN’s long-term company vision and leading position in esports production is vital for Tencent to optimise the layout of the esports industry’s development.”
With Tencent owning 100% of Riot Games, 40% of Epic Games, and smaller percentages in many other game developers, VSPN may have an easier time than most in terms of expanding considering their new investor could provide opportunities with major titles like League of Legends and Fortnite.
The “Road to World First,” a huge rebuild for World of Warcraft guild Method, is well underway ahead of the Shadowlands launch. Dexerto spoke to org founder Scott ‘Sco’ McMillan about the race not only to beat Castle Nathria, but to establish a “new era” for the iconic 15-year-old organization too.
It’s been a whirlwind two months for Scott McMillan. In early October, Method announced they would be rebuilding the World of Warcraft guild, nearly from scratch. At the time, the official Shadowlands release was just three weeks away.
Luckily for McMillan and Method’s ambitious “Road to World First” rebuild, Blizzard delayed the launch by nearly a month. That didn’t slow down anything the long-standing organization was doing, though. It’s been “a little mad,” start to finish, McMillan told Dexerto, but they now have a World of Warcraft roster ready to take on the Castle Nathria raid.
Method’s new era began with half of Reason’s lineup. The rest were built from applicants from across the community. More than 900 applicants applied, in the end, and McMillan was faced with cutting that down to a workable raid team.
Six weeks later, the work is done; Method is finally ready for Shadowlands.
WoW fans are very excited to get knee-deep in Shadowlands.
“It’s going to take a bit of time to build synergy with all the players together. Half the Guild are coming from one team [Reason] but the rest are individuals,” McMillan told Dexerto.
“Things have been coming together quite nicely,” he continued. “We definitely have a good internal structure going. The relationships are being built, and strengthened over time. We’ve also been playing games like Among Us to build teamwork and synergy.”
McMillan has been extremely transparent throughout the whole rebuilding process too. The Method rebuild has been well-documented, with multiple YouTube videos, regular updates on Twitter, and plenty more. It’s “important,” McMillan explained.
There’s two reasons for this. First, Method wants to make it clear they’re heading in a new direction following allegations against former streamer MethodJosh. The second is related to the new World of Warcraft landscape; raid races have become an event.
Shadowlands is also set to feature changes to classes, including the Death Knights.
There was a time, in mid-2018, where interest in Raid races was diminishing. Method was duking it out with a Russian guild, but apart from that, interest in World of Warcraft events in new expansions was ebbing away.
2018 turned out to be the turning point for WoW guilds, and community interest, however — the advent of Twitch as a streaming platform was only building. Method partnered with Red Bull for Battle for Azeroth. The race exploded in popularity online.
“Up until this point, you didn’t really get to see the Raids. The World of Warcraft community kind of kept races behind closed doors — they didn’t want to reveal secrets, and it was hard to share updates. There were lots of forum posts, really,” he said.
“For Battle of Azeroth, we decided to leave that behind, and stream it. It was huge. We got numbers that you usually see at a CSGO Major. I got 167k on my own stream alone.
“There aren’t many better times in WoW. It’s a competition — everyone wants to win it all, of course — but it’s also a premiere. Because WoW is such an old game, most gamers at some point have played the game, and that adds interest. Then there’s the aspect that it’s like a ‘preview’ for players, and those that might be keen to get back on board too.”
Method is looking forward to reigniting the spark lit by WoW raids in the past.
Shadowlands will also be a chance for Method to “level up” their event, and not just roster-wise. For the first tier of the Castle Nathria raid, the org will be tracking Method’s progress on Sco’s Twitch channel and creating complementary content. Then, for a speculative second tier, they hope to, once again, hosting 24/7 coverage with hosts, analysts, casters, and plenty more — including an in-person event should things progress to that point.
“We want to make it one of the biggest events on Twitch,” McMillan stated.
Now, it’s all hands on deck at Method. McMillan will be hard at work preparing for the race itself, while the entire organization is creating content for the event.
“There’s the expansion itself coming in a few days, then two weeks to Heroic release, and three weeks before Mythic. It’s an incredibly intense period, every single week leading up to Mythic at this point,” McMillan admitted.
“We have to get in, level multiple characters, get them up to certain gear levels, then do the Heroic week. During Heroic week you’re doing a lot of split Raids to gear up for Mythic. Then, of course, there’s Mythic release; that one is very close to Christmas too.”
Shadowlands is set to turn World of Warcraft on its head all over again.
Beyond all the nitty-gritty of the “Road to World First” too, McMillan is excited. He’s been playing World of Warcraft since release, and been involved in every Raid race. The Method founder has even pocketed a few wins too — a dozen in 15 years, to be precise.
At the core of it all, he’s just “super excited” to get into the Raid as a player too; Shadowlands’ arrival feels a bit like an early Christmas, he admits.
“I’m really excited to get into the Raid with the Guild. I’ve played a lot so far in testing, but I’ve not played Castle Nathria. It’s going to be great,” he said.
“Competing and raiding, there’s nothing like it, especially when you have a new Guild. We’re going to be simulating hardcore challenges, testing weaknesses, finding any improvements for the lineup; it’s a grind, but it’s a fun grind!”