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Formula 1 series extends successful Shanghai stay

By HE QI in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2021-11-09 09:27
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A fan experiences virtual Formula 1 racing at the China International Import Expo over the weekend. HE QI/CHINA DAILY

Formula 1's Esports Series will continue to be staged in China until 2025 in a deal that also secures the future of F1's Chinese Grand Prix.

The agreement between Shanghai Juss Sports Development (Group) and Formula One World Championship Co, was officially announced on Saturday at the 4th China International Import Expo in Shanghai.

The F1 Esports Series China Championship was first staged in 2019.

In its second appearance at the expo, Juss Intellisports said the new deal underlines the rapid growth and development of the Chinese esports market.

According to data analytics firm Nielsen, the 2020 F1 Esports China Championship generated over 418 million yuan ($65 million) in multimedia value, with an annual audience of more than 50 million.

"Over the past six months, the F1 Esports China Championship has attracted around 96,000 competitors and reached 120 million users," said Xie Tian, deputy director of Juss Intellisports.

Xie also touted the green credentials of virtual sports in gaming and esports.

"In the new year, with the deep integration of traditional sports and virtual sports, the F1 Esports China Championship will do its part for the environment by relying on virtual competitions," Xie said.

"Meanwhile, it will also promote China's virtual racing esports events and explore a new path for the development of virtual sports," he said.

Huang Jie, director of the publicity department of Juss Intellisports, said that the success of F1 esports brings huge benefits for the real-life F1 championship.

"Through F1 esports, we also help boost the fan base of the real-life F1 motor racing," he said.

The F1 Chinese Grand Prix has been staged in Shanghai since 2004 but the last two editions were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic and it has not been included on the 2022 calendar. The new deal, however, secures its future on the schedule.

"This is great news for all of our fans in China," said F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali.

"While we are all disappointed we could not include China on the 2022 calendar due to ongoing pandemic conditions, China will be restored to the calendar as soon as conditions allow and we look forward to being back with the fans as soon as we can."

Asian Games update

Meanwhile, organizers of the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou on Saturday confirmed the eight titles that will feature as medal events at the showpiece. They are: Arena of Valor Asian Games Version, Dota 2, Dream Three Kingdoms 2, EA SPORTS FIFA-branded soccer games, HearthStone, League of Legends, PUBG Mobile Asian Games Version, and Street Fighter V.

"It is of great significance to add esports as an official event to the Asian Games," said Zhu Qinan, director of the competition department of the Hangzhou 2022 organizing committee.

"As the first major international sports gala to include esports as an official medal event, it will aid esports' development," Zhu said.

Saturday's esports announcements came on the same weekend that Chinese club EDward Gaming won the 2021 League of Legends World Championship in Iceland.

EDG overcame a heavily favored South Korean squad to become the third team from China's League of Legends Pro League to win the world title.

"After EDG won the championship, the news quickly became the top trending topic on social media platform Weibo, and the number of views was 10 times that of the second topic," said Huang.

"This is further proof of the vast esports population and market in China."

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