Further confirmation that the esports market is booming amid the pandemic comes today with the news that esports’ VSPN (Versus Programming Network) “complete solution provider” has amassed what it describes as “close” to $ 100 million in a circle of Series B financing led by Tencent Holdings . Other investors in the circle include Tiantu Capital, SIG (Susquehanna International Group) and Kuaishou. The funding round will focus on improving export products and its ecosystem in China and Asia.
Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Shanghai, VSPN was one of the first pioneers in the organization of export and content creation tournaments outside Asia. It has since expanded to other businesses, including offline work.
In a statement, Dino Yin, CEO of VSPN (see also our exclusive interview), said: “We are pleased to announce this latest round of funding. Thanks to policies supporting Shanghai as a global export hub, as well as with Beijing, Chengdu and Xi̵
Mars Howe, general manager of Tencent Esports, commented: “The company’s long-term vision and VSPN’s leading position in esports production are vital for Tencent to optimize the layout of the esports industry.”
We had a hint that Tencent could invest in VSPN when, in March this year, Mark Rehn, chief operating officer of Tencent Holdings, made a public statement that Tencent would provide higher quality sports competitions in connection with tournament organizers such as VSPN.
As we noted in August, Tencent, now the world’s largest game publisher, will consolidate Douyu and Huya, previously competing live video sites focused on video games.
In other words, Tencent’s investment in VSPN shows that it is doubling in the export market again.
This round of Serie B funding comes four years after VSPN’s Serie A funding round in 2016, which was led by Focus Media Network, affiliated with China’s Jianteng Sports Industry Fund, Guangdian Capital and Averest Capital.
Now VSPN has become the main organizer of tournaments and broadcaster for international competitions PUBG MOBILE and the best competitions in China for Honor of Kings, PUBG, Peacekeeper Elite, CrossFire, FIFA, QQ Speed and Clash Royale. This will collect 12,000 hours of original content. The company partners with over 70% of Chinese export tournaments.
In March, another huge esports player, ESL, join forces with Tencent to become part of the PUBG Mobile esports chain for 2020
In addition to its core business sports tournaments and content production, VSPN has branded sports venues in Chengdu, Xi’an and Shanghai. In May, VSPN launched its first place abroad, V. SPACE in Seoul, South Korea.
And even offline events are back. VSPN hosted the first large-scale offline sports event in August this year. And the LOL S10 event will open 6,000 tickets. However, all tournaments will operate under strict COVID-19 prevention measures and approval processes by the Chinese government, and not all sporting events allow offline audiences. In principle, only high-level ones are approved.
VSPN said it will continue to focus on building a video ecosystem with a short form of esports, improving the quality of esports content creation and reaching more users through various channels. VSPN currently has over 1,000 employees in five business units.