China’s largest e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. is expanding its business footprint in cyberspace as it made a $150 million investment in the International e-Sports Federation.
IeSF announced that it entered “an exclusive strategic partnership” with the Jack Ma-led company, through its sports subsidiary Alisports. The IeSF – a governing body of eSports with 47 country member signatories – said that both parties shared a same vision on future eSports goals.
The Alibaba-IeSF partnership aims to establish a tournament where all amateur eSports players and professional eSports players can participate. The two organizations will also push for the recognition of eSports as sports, including securing participation in the Olympic Games.
IeSF said both organizations plan to create a unique intellectual property rights.
“This partnership is one big step to IeSF. I believe IeSF and Alisports will maximize each other’s strength by this partnership. I also believe e-Sports Stadium can be transformed to be a fashion place for Youth. IeSF will make our all effort to be with more e-Sports fans in more countries together with Alisports from now on,” IeSF President Byung Hun Jun said in a statement.
Alisports is said to shell out a $5.5 million prize pool for the upcoming tournament, the World Electronic Sports Games. They expect that e-Sports players from over 100 countries and regions will participate in the event.
The e-Commerce giant will also invest in the construction of the eSports Stadiums around China, hoping to make it become a way of life.
“As the most authoritative international organization in [the] eSports industry, IeSF has been committed to promoting [the] esports movement into the mainstream including pushing it into the Olympic Games, which is consistent with our ideal. We are honored to cooperate with IeSF as the exclusive global partners in a long-term. I believe the two sides will jointly promote the development of the global e-Sports industry,” said Alisport CEO Zhang Dazhong.
The IeSF was founded in 2008, and counts 45 member nations including South Korea, China, Australia, Russia, Finland, Italy and Norway. Along with an annual tournament, its recent plans include presenting documents to the International Olympic Committee to get eSports included in the event.