Mar 30 2016 - 6:00 pm

Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba launching $5.5 million esports tournament series

The world's largest ecommerce site is moving into esports, reviving an iconic tournament with millions of dollars on the line in the process
Morning Editor

The world's largest ecommerce site is moving into esports, reviving an iconic tournament with millions of dollars on the line in the process.

Alibaba's new esports devision will revive the World Cyber Games (WCG), the tournament series that ran from 2000 to 2013.

The event will offer $5.5 million in total prize money across titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Hearthstone, Dota 2 and StarCraft 2, according to an English translation of the group's announcement. Alibaba will invest around $15 million in its esports division this year.

The absence of League of Legends from the event is no surprise—Alibaba's main competitor in the region, Tencent, owns League developer Riot Games.  

The original WCG attempted to mirror traditional sporting events, with an official Olympics-style opening ceremony and players representing national teams competing for gold, silver and bronze medals. According to Alibaba however, its version will differ from the original WCG presentation, though it wasn’t forthcoming with details on how. WCG originated in Korea in 2000, but took place across Europe and North America throughout its 13-year existence.

Last year, Alibaba also expanded into traditional sports, founding partnerships with Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, and Kobe Bryant. The company was worth $212 billion by the end of 2015.

Photo via Peter Kaminski/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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