China may not be the first nation that comes to mind when the subject of eSports comes up, but it increasingly seems like it should be in that conversation.
The ESL certainly thinks so, announcing today that the Intel Extreme Masters series will kick off its Season 9 schedule in China for the second straight year. The tour’s first event will take place in Shenzhen from July 16 through 21, though extedned qualifiers begin on June 1.
It’s the fifth time that the Intel Extreme Masters will visit China, and the popularity of the Starcraft II and League of Legends events was proven last year when more than 450,000 Chinese viewers watched the tour’s Season 8 finals concurrently online.
“With its tradition in eSports and continuously growing fan base, China is a sleeping giant in professional gaming,” ESL Managing Director of Pro Gaming Michal Blicharz said in a press release. “Last season the IEM recorded its highest Chinese viewership yet and we want to continue to involve Chinese gamers in global competitions. This is why we come to China every year.”
Intel has sponsored the ESL’s most prominent competitive series since 2006, which is the longest current sponsor relationship in the eSports world. More information on the tour and the kickoff event in Shenzhen can be found at intelextrememasters.com.
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