(Yicai Global) Sept. 13 -- King Pro League will set up two international divisions, the South Korea Division and the Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and South Asia Division, Zhang Yijia, KPL chairman and general manager of the mobile e-sports business department of Tencent Interactive Entertainment announced at the kick-off ceremony for the KPL Fall Season 2018.
KPL's South Korea Division will kick off its series in the middle of October with winnings of up to KRW160 million (USD143,000). Eight teams will be selected for the first heat of the multiplayer video game competitions.
South Korea, which Finnish study abroad consultancy Asia Exchange dubbed the 'e-sports capital of the world,' has one of the world's most advanced sectors. Its accession formally upgrades KPL into an international league, and the overseas development of e-sports will also stimulate these games' popularity in overseas markets.
King of Glory is a popular game developed by Chinese tech titan Tencent Holdings that has attracted hordes of international players. The Chinese team made up of active KPL players won the gold medal in the Arena of Valor -- the international version of King of Glory -- exhibition match in the first e-sports gold medal awarded at the Asian Games.
"The incorporation of e-sports into the Asian Games is a material issue for the entire sector, and helps participants gain more recognition in society and e-sports align with the international sports sectors," Zhang said.
KPL's annual sponsors now include McDonald's, Vivo Communication Technology, and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank's credit cards, while its seasonal partners comprise the M&M'S candies made by US Mars and SAIC Volkswagen Automotive's Lamando GTS. These companies also act as major sponsors to traditional sports games.
China and South Korea face the same challenge in their e-sports industries, namely clubs' struggle for survival. South Korea heard frequent news of the breakup of major teams in 2015 and 2016.
E-sports clubs have frequently run in the red, Zhang told Yicai Global in an interview, but the sector has turned around in the last two years.
KPL has found the initial profit model of professional clubs and helped them survive and profit. For instance, it has adopted some systems like salary caps and regulated transfer to limit teams' outgoings and formed an income-sharing mechanism to support clubs through cost savings.
Editor: Ben Armour