Alibaba is venturing out of e-commerce and further into esports.
The company’s sports subsidiary, Alisports, has joined with the Olympic Council of Asia to bring esports to the Asian Games.
Esports will appear at next year’s Games in Indonesia as a “demonstration,” Alibaba said, but will be an official medal sport in China’s 2022 Games. The Asian Games are recognised by the International Olympic Committee, meaning in 2022 esports will be an official Olympic sport.
Esports is a growing market that is expected to garner 191 million global enthusiasts by the year’s end, according to research firm Newzoo. As of last April, the industry was worth over $450 million — a number expected to grow to $1 billion by 2019.
That growth is manifesting in many ways. Not only is esports now technically an Olympic sport, the NBA will soon be creating its own esports league, and there are gaming schools to groom the next generation of pros.
Alibaba’s affinity with the market is not new. The company invested $150 million in the International e-Sports Federation last year and organised a worldwide tournament featuring a prize pool of more than $5.5 million.
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