The Alibaba e-commerce group has decided to jump into the world of esports this week, and they're starting off with US$5.5 million in prizes for this year alone.
The prizes are for a new event called the World Electronic Sports Games (WESG), announced via a press release on Alibaba's sports site. WESG is the brainchild of Alibaba's Alisports division, which is spending over US$15.4 million on esports through the carnival-esque event.
Finals for the inaugural WESG event will begin from next month, with tournaments to be held around the world for Hearthstone, StarCraft 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2. The press release plans to attract qualifiers from more than 100 countries and regions, although no events are planned down under just yet. Kotaku Australia understands, however, that local organisers have been contacted with regards to future events.
The initial release also says that anti-doping measures will be implemented, along with regulations around ages, penalties and moral etiquette. What won't be included is League of Legends, although that's hardly a surprise: Riot is fully owned by Tencent, which owns many rivals to Alibaba's e-commerce services.
YuuZoo, a social network and commerce group with offices in Singapore, the United States and Sydney's Pyrmont, have been announced as the organisers for all of Alibaba Sports Group's esports events in China.
"Under the agreement, AliSports will pay YuuGames a multimillion US dollar fee to organise and run WESG and manage AliSports’ E-Sports Clubs Competition Center," a release from YuuZoo says.
The companies also announced there would be 1200 esports events in China this year alone across 15 cities, with the country quoted by Forbes as having more than 100 million esports fans.