"I hope that next year more than 30 countries will take to WESG" Interview with AliSports CEO, Vice Mayor of Jiaozhou City, GM of Alisports esports Business Unit



On the fourth day of WESG, at the stadium's interview room, ZHANG Dazhong(AliSports CEO), LI Baoshuai(Vice Mayor of Jiaozhou City), WANG Guan(General Manager of Alisports esports Business Unit) had media conference with reporters from around the world.

What do they think about the significance of WESG, the meaning of esports, and also the future of esports? Below is the content of the conference.


Q. WESG, the biggest esports tournament in Shandong Province, was held in Jiaozhou for the first time. What kind of opportunity led to this cooperation?

Zhang: First of all, let me express my appreciation to Jiaozhou government for their strong support. Jiaozhou government showed advanced cognitive: esports behalf young people, behalf future. I’m proud of our great enthusiasm and outstanding service for electronic games. The world’s first Inflatable esports gymnasium was set up in only 46 days, which really surprised me. Thanks to Jiaozhou and Mayor Lee, thanks to City Investment Corporation. Besides, Jiaozhou attaches great importance to sports for a long time. Both traditional and emerging sports are prosperous on this fertile land. I believe future esports will continue to develop in this beautiful city.

Li: Mr. Zhang introduced the base of our cooperation, and I’ll make some supplementary. Based on good communication in the early stages, Alisports and Jiaozhou successfully held this tournament. We contracted with Alisports at once after hearing the news, expressing our strong desire to bid. After that Mr. Zhang, together with his Alisports team came to Jiaozhou for several times. After inspection, they are satisfied with our strength. As we all know, electronic games were integrated as sports by General Administration of Sport in 2008. WESG APAC Finals is currently the highest-standard and highest-prize esports tournament in Shandong Province, which shows Jiaozhou’s confidence and determination to build the world's electronic sports town and International sports and cultural city.

Jiaozhou has five major advantages to hold WESG:

1. Jiaozhou has a long history, which is the largest trading port north of the Yangtze River and one of the five major commercial ports in China;

2. Jiaozhou also has traffic location advantages: 3 express highways and 5 rails, as well as Qingdao Jiaodong International Airport, settled in Jiaozhou;

3. Advantages of industrial agglomeration are very prominent. The new industry, intelligent manufacturing of aviation logistics gather in Jiaozhou;

4. Four national-level platforms gathered here and our GDP exceeded 100 billion in 2016 for the first time.

5. In 50 national civilized cities, Jiaozhou won the first place. A large number of TOP500 companies have the investment here, showing the potential for development in Jiaozhou.

We look forward to more in-depth cooperation with Ali. This is just a beginning.

Q1. As the great success of League of Legends World Championship S7, many people think that esports do not need accreditation from Olympic Games.

Q2. King of Glory tournaments like LPL is progressing rapidly. Do you have a desire for such games?

Q3. How important is esports in the business module of Alisports?

Zhang: Undoubtedly, the Olympic Games are the highest dream of sports workers. A few days ago I was at CES (International Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. I met O'Neill and other IOC members, persuading them to support electronic games. I always say that electronic games are a kind of sport. With rules and unified organizations, esports tournaments are just like Olympic Games. There are many business competitions, but if they do not enter the Olympic Games, their uniformity and fairness cannot be guaranteed.

So many countries, including nations and teams recognized by IOC, participated in APAC Finals. We hope that Olympic Communities in other regions will promote and popularize esports. We believe this will be realized in the near future.

In the process of promoting esports into the Olympic Games, the professional league is gradually prosperous. We are glad to see this. As for some projects, the OCA and the NOCs of various countries also give us a lot of suggestions. They think that various countries and regions should actively hold offline competitions such as holding intercontinental and offline competitions in so that more people will be involved. Another suggestion is to further improve the sports events. They think that esports cannot always shoot-outs and we should increase traditional sports events in esports area. This area we have cooperated with a lot of game developers. I believe that in the future, we will see more esports tournaments highly combined with sports events such as football, basketball, and other traditional sports.

Q. I want to ask Mayor Li some questions. Jiaozhou started to develop esports last year. I would like to ask are there any policies Jiaozhou government applied to encourage talents back?

Li: The cooperation with Alisports let me learn many things about electronic games. I am a layman, and my knowledge about esports is from cartoons. Just now Mr. Zhang introduced the targets and challenges about esports. And the tournament brought three major impacts to Jiaozhou.

1. Jiaozhou's popularity has been promoted. In the past, everybody knew about Qingdao but did not know Jiaozhou. If the tournament took the opportunity to publicize Jiaozhou, we could deepen our cooperation;

2. The tournament made a direct impact on the depth of integration of sports culture and development, affecting the gaming industry and a series of related industries. Through the early cooperation with AliSports, we found the advantages and disadvantages. Our development in esports area is far from enough. The next step we will aim to build a world city of esports, included in the focus of the development of sports industry. We will also increase the cultivation and training of esports talents and business lovers in vocational high schools and gradually develop our players.

3. Jiaozhou will be known by more people through the development of gaming industry, which has become one of the Municipal government’s strategic targets. esports players will also benefit from this.

Q. Recently the concept of esports town is very popular. Tencent settled their pan-entertainment complex in Beijing. May I think that Jiaozhou will develop its own esports town in the future?

Li: This is exactly what I want to introduce to you. WESG benefits Jiaozhou a lot, especially in esports industry. More than 20 companies related to esports came to Jiaozhou immediately to conduct research so that the citizens could have a deeper understanding of esports and gaming industry. In addition, we will establish the esports industry investment funds and hold more esports tournaments, linking esports industries with all level from investment to planning. We will launch a series of policies and measures to focus on promoting such as esports production and television events operations. Jiaozhou is a base for the entire manufacturing industry in Qingdao. In the past few years, it is building a functional manufacturing base. This is our talent advantage.

The Internet is Ali's biggest advantage. Jiaozhou will use it and promote Jiaozhou’s gaming, sports and related industries to the world. We have the confidence to make Jiaozhou the leader of the province in the Internet, sports, and travel area.

Zhang: Let me make some supplementary. We should pay more attention to people. This time I am delighted to see that so many fans come here. And a large number of industries were developed due to esports. The world’s first Inflatable esports venue was set up in only 46 days. We use environmentally friendly energy-saving equipment to create a 10,000 m2 stadium, which can constant temperature and humidity and is warm as spring. Besides, the air indicators here are fully compliant. In the future, everyone will feel great stage effect. City Investment Corporation has created a new model for future gaming venues. This model will greatly improve the scarcity of sports venues.

In addition, I don’t know whether you notice the girls’ wigs, who is raising the flags. Incredibly, these are the specialty of Jiaozhou. Actually, 70% of the world's wigs are from Jiaozhou. All the flag girls wear colorful wigs, as well as WESG staffs wear hats. All of these are from Jiaozhou. This is to promote the development of the industry. Can you imagine that?

What’s more, Jiaozhou government produced special sports suits with national emblem for the competition, which shows the high combination of our industry and enterprises. I believe that the majority of the participants in the WESG APAC Finals will become the main force for the future development of electronic sports, including referees and staffs. They will contribute to the future development of esports in Shandong. Ali left talents for Shandong and made a contribution to Jiaozhou. In the future, we will continue dedicated to exhibitions, theatrical performances, and all kinds of the sports event to enrich people's material and cultural life.

Q. What’s the specific development of electronic competition of Alisports in Hong Kong?

Zhang: First of all, congratulates to YAN, the female player from Hong Kong, China. She won the championship of the Hearthstone. This shows that Chinese Hong Kong players are still competitive in electronic games. This year, we merged Hong Kong, Macao, and Chinese Taipei into one division and I hope Hong Kong will be able to serve as a separate division next year. Moreover, Mr. Kenneth Fok, Chairman of AESF, is Vice President of Hong Kong Olympic Committee. And I believe this is also helpful for the prosperity of esports in Hong Kong. As far as I know, Macao and Chinese Taipei have already started bidding and I hope I would be able to go to Hong Kong someday.

Q. Mr. Zhang, would you please to say something about the city cooperation mode of Alisports, as well as the feelings of 2017 and the focus and direction of 2018?

Zhang: A major move in 2017 is the establishment of the Urban Sports Services Division, which specializes in Internet services and smart sports services for sports and cities across the country as well as the establishment of tournament brand. Just now Mayor Lee said that he values the Internet of Alisports, but Alisports values the executive force of Jiaozhou because sports need to be carried. From the process of developing Internet sports, we can see that the scene experience is indispensable.

With the establishment of AliSports Urban Sports Services Division, 2017 became an important year for Ali. Now Jiaozhou is making efforts to combine the works. Many things happened in Chinese sports industry in 2017. Fortunately, we have the right direction without disturbances, controlling our own desires and not following others. Ali, as the Internet Company with the least burnout, emphasized the establishment of tournament brand, just like what we focus on now --- offline experience and participation. Although esports is an online game event, more than 60,000 players participate offline. And this is the law of esports. We serve sports lovers. What do they need? And that is what we should deal with. We provide them with such a service, making it simple. Everyone can be a sportsman, and this principle never changed.

In 2018, we will continue to work in the electronic competition, in the campus sports which is focused by young people, in the sports services, in cooperation with the government in sports venues, sports towns, and other fields. This is our plan of 2018.

I hope that next year more than 30 countries will take to WESG. Not only enterprises helped us, but also the local Olympic Committee. That is the WESG lead the development of the global gaming industry. When the guests come to Jiaozhou, they will learn how to engage in esports events, which is driven by WESG.

Q. May I ask Wang Guan whether the marketing value of this tournament is underestimated?

Wang Guan: We have been exploring the work of brand marketing, we hope to make tournament brand as a carrier, and link with brand suppliers. We can see a lot of Wonglaoji on the scene. Of course, we usually drink it. And this is the connection between brand and users. When you really come into contact with this brand through an event, in fact, our brand marketing succeeds. This is our role in promoting domestic brands to foreigners. This is the demands of the two parties when we cooperate with Wong Lo Kat and Hyundai. As you said that the brand was underestimated. I think this is a run-in period. The two industries may not be a very high fit. We all know that the sports industry has been developing for more than 100 years and now many things have shaped up. But how esports integrate with the government and other industries, we are still groping. I hope that we can help more brands to contact with users through marketing media capabilities together with local tournaments and partner services of Alibaba platform. Contacting with the esports events, some enterprises are hoping to reach users, and build their own brand awareness. All the staffs on the scene of the competition, including players, media, and security can feel the contact with the brands.

Zhang: In addition, I chatted with the director of Wonglaoji yesterday. How to introduce Wonglaoji to foreigners? “That is Wang Lucky!” Interesting! Maybe the brand itself is also thinking whether it needs a foreign name when they step into the international stage.

Q. Is there any plan to add the PUBG to the WESG?

Wang Guan: 
WESG is more cautious about the choice of sports, and we hope the project will have room and depth for development. In the aspects of broadcast and technology, PUBG is imperfect. As we all know, because there are more than 60 shots, the broadcast is really difficult. The broadcast effect and the user experience may not be so good. And we are still studying. We know that military experience survival games need further research and development than to break down barriers. Our goal is to hope for some more traditional competitive sport, to meet the competitive spirit and move towards the rule of Olympics. When this program fit the whole marketing development rule and players can experience well, we would consider involving it into the WESG.

Q. World Cup Russia will start this year, so would you take football-related games into the WESG tournaments in the future? Besides, would you please say something about eSports culture?

Wang Guan: In this October, when Bach admitted the electronic game as a sport, we are considering to bring something to this program. We would claim when there is a proper time that we have already planning to involve some programs which combine the electronic programs with sports, but we can’t tell more now. As for the esports culture, we’ve been slowly combining and it will present where you can see it. Personally, I think culture is something like this - I think it’s interesting and I like it.

Q. Both female players and competitions are worth watching. What’s your view on female tournaments and the development of WESG’s female competition?

Wang Guan: According to the percentage of men and woman, there is a gender imbalance in the electronic competition field, therefore, it has prevented many female players to go up-and-coming. To be honest, the mental and physical skills are different in men and woman. We held this competition hoping more female sports can play at an international level. So we provided them a woman group besides the general group for the female players. It is an attempt this year, and we would add more woman groups on the basis of female players’ feedback as many as possible. Then it’s another goal that we are approaching the Olympic model.

Zhang: It is the rule in Olympic that men and woman should be separated to compete in order to present the justice of competition. Actually, it’s unfair that we let female players compete with male players in traditional electronic games. Besides, female players enliven the stage atmosphere. The effect is beyond our expectation telling from the first year’s promotion of electronic development in different regions when I came to Europe, I asked the European players, and they show enthusiasm in woman esports game.

Currently, WESG is the largest scale and highest bonus tournament in our province, this can fully reflect ours confidence and extermination to built an esports town and international sports cultural city.


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