Celebrating Women in Esports Part 4: Industry Leaders in China

As part of the annual series on women in the esports industry, The Esports Observer continues to highlight some of the prominent women throughout the esports space. 

China and its esports communities play an important role in the global esports industry, and have often missed their voice being heard in the west due to the “Great Firewall.” In this article, we highlight the women in the Chinese esports scene as well as their unique opinions on the industry. Here are their stories, presented in no particular order:

Duan “Candice” Yushuang, the official host of the League of Legends Pro League (LPL), has become the most recognized face of the Chinese League of Legends esports. Since the COVID-19 pandemic made the 2020 League of Legends World Championship (Worlds 2020) in Shanghai the world’s biggest esports event of the year, Yushuang as the official host of the event, also received olive branches from multiple non-endemic brands including Nike, Apple’s Beats by Dre, luxury brand Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), acting as their “Corporate Esports Talent.” She has also become the “brand friend” of the Swiss watch brand Breitling and incorporated social media campaigns with Chinese vehicle-for-hire company Didi Chuxing for saying “NO to Drunk Driving.” 

“In the next five years, I will try hard in my work, in every competition. Meanwhile, I also want to expand more possibilities outside of esports but within the entertainment industry,” Yushuang said. “Maybe I will learn and explore behind the scenes work in esports after five years.”

Yushuang joined the industry in 2016 as a part-time bilingual esports host of Riot Games. In the past five years, she contributed her passion and hard work to League of Legends esports, and earned much love and respect from the communities. As of now, she enjoys 5.4M followers on Chinese social media Weibo and her fans kindly refer to her as “Aunt.”

“I believe the home-away strategy in esports will become a new symbol for Chinese cities. In the future, attending an esports competition will be just like going for an NBA or soccer match,” Yushuang said.

Not everyone in the esports industry is great at competitive gaming. For Danny Tang, the Co-Founder and CFO of Chinese esports total solutions company VSPN, playing an esports game might be a tough task for her. “I might be the worst player in the esports industry,” Tang joked. “I’m much better at using what I learned from the investment industry to uncover and prove the value of esports.” 

Prior to co-founding VSPN, Tang served as the vice president at China Development Bank Capital and was previously at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. ‘s investment team in the US and China. In the VSPN leadership team, Tang is responsible for overseeing the group’s corporate strategy, finance, investments, legal affairs, and overseas operations.

With the help of Tang’s team, VSPN has shown resilience and strong growth in the past couple of months and successfully raised Series B and B+ financing rounds, against the backdrop of the global pandemic and a global economic recession. VSPN also announced this January that it has acquired Chinese production company Banana Gaming & Media.

“What I love about esports is that it brings people together,” Tang explained, noting her passion for esports and why she thinks it is a good asset for capital. “Just like traditional sports, esports creates shared experiences and builds connections amongst players and fans. It is competitive, passionate, and exploding in growth. We strive to serve this community with the best online and offline experiences and contents.”

Pan “RURU” Jie, CEO of LGD Gaming, has been widely called the “Chinese Esports Queen Mother” in the industry. Back in 2007, a CIS professional Dota team called “RUSH 3D” came to China and beat all of their opponents. “I wanted to break their dominance in China, so I contacted a few players and formed my own team Dota 7L,” Jie said, recalling her first steps into the esports industry.

Her story with LGD Gaming is also pretty dramatic. “A friend of mine asked me to help design the logo of LGD, later I joined the org as the team leader,” Jie said, “but not long after I joined the team, LGD’s owner decided to divest and abandon the team. The team was in jeopardy and I thought I should step forward and took the responsibility to keep the team going and become the captain of LGD Gaming in real life.”

Now LGD Gaming has become one of the most historic esports teams in China, and competes in major esports titles such as Dota 2, League of Legends, Honor of Kings, Peacekeeper Elite and CrossFire. For Dota 2, the team partnered with French soccer team Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and co-branded the team name as PSG.LGD. The team won runner-up at the 2018 The International, as well as third place in the 2019 edition of the event. In League of Legends, LGD also attended Worlds 2020 as one of four teams who represent the LPL.

“The vision of LGD Gaming is ‘Ignite your esports dream: Simply passionate and invigorate,’”  Jie said of the strategy of the company. “On the one hand, LGD will constantly extend our brand to more disciplines, on the other hand, we should focus on discovering more possibilities of commercialization in each title.” 

Wu “Dido” Jingjing, CEO of esports education company Dido Esports, has found her way from Tencent to educate China’s future esports talents. Before starting her journey as a CEO of the company, she spent more than 15 years working in the esports industry as a host, and worked at Tencent Games as the interactive entertainment brand manager from 2011-2017. 

Throughout her career, her most notable moments included hosting the main stage for the 2009 World Cyber Games, the 2017 King Pro League (KPL) Fall Split Finals, and the 2019 Fortnite World Cup China qualifier finals. 

Now Jingjing has put all of her energy into running her company as CEO, and is trying to create more valuable esports educational content and courses for her students. In China’s esports industry, most female esports hosts or shoutcasters have their own streaming channel but Jingjing decided not to spend her time on the screen. 

“To me, streaming is easier but not my passion in esports. I’ve put myself on the screen for years, but I want to contribute my passion for the whole industry, not just myself,” she said.  “People like me who work in esports for more than ten years in China are the first-generation of esports talents, and I believe we have the responsibility to educate the newcomers how the industry works. It’s an ambition that is higher than my own benefit. Esports needs to improve transparency.”

Founded in 2018, Jingjing’s company Dido Esports has become the official esports education partner of Tencent Esports, and signed partnerships with Zhejiang University of Media and Communications and Chinese esports organization Edward Gaming. 

“Whatever is, in the game or in real life, esports has taught me three valuable abilities, which are observation, calculation, and execution. I hope my team and students can learn those three abilities from esports, and use them in their journey, whether that is in esports or not,” said Jingjing.

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