Tencent-Backed Esports Startup VSPN Closes $60 Million Funding

Shanghai-based esports event organizer Versus Programming Network (VSPN) has raised $60 million in its series B+ funding round, as esports’ inclusion in the lineup for the 2022 Asian Games as a full medal event has increased investor interest.

The round was joined by Prospect Avenue Capital, Guotai Junan International and Nan Fung Group, VSPN said in a statement on Friday.

Proceeds will be used to develop esports production technologies, build up intellectual properties, create new esports products and content as well as expand business globally, according to the statement.

Four-year-old VSPN, which focuses on organizing esports tournaments, content creation and offline venue operations, said that it currently holds 70% of the market for premium esports events in China. In May 2020, the Tencent-backed firm launched its first overseas esports venue in Seoul.

On Jan. 15, VSPN said that it had acquired Banana Gaming & Media, which was created by Wang Sicong, son of billionaire Chinese property tycoon Wang Jianlin, in what it described as a crucial step to further strengthen its global reach.

The new funding comes nearly a month after esports was named as an official medal event in the 2022 Asian Games in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. Esports was first included as a demonstration sport at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.

The topic was also in the news earlier this month when the head of iQiyi Sports, a major sports broadcaster in China, said he didn’t consider esports as sports, even if they are going to feature in next year’s Asian Games.

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