China’s New Online Gaming Regulations Hits the LDL
Earlier this week, news broke out about the new online gaming regulations in China that would limit minors to three hours a week of online play. There was speculation that these regulations could impact China’s gaming and esports industry, while others have noted that reporting on the situation is alarmist and myopic. Kotaku’s Sisi Jiang posted an excellent write-up on the diversity of China’s gaming population and the socioeconomics surrounding online games and gacha mechanics in China. She noted that esports in China has integrated into higher education and the tech industry, seeing support at a national level. Indeed, it’s something that should be taken into consideration when reporting on these regulations, especially when cities like Hangzhou operate and oversee projects like Hangzhou’s esports town where organizations like LGD and Allied Esports have their offices, as reported by The Esports Observer.
While everyone remains hopeful that these new regulations won’t tread on the operations of teams and leagues of China, it seems that there are already concessions made by the LDL for the league to remain compliant with these new regulations.
LDL Players First Esports Casualties of New Regulations
According to a tweet posted by @ran_lpl containing a screenshot of an LDL announcement on Weibo, semi-finals for the LDL (League of Legends Developmental League) are moving to September 6, finals are moving to the 8th, and all players under 18 are now barred from professional esports competition.
Further evidence of this change includes removing mid laner Creme from Oh My God’s roster on the LPL website, with substitute player Wuming being the only mid laner shown on the roster.
The tweet notes that roster deadlines for LDL teams are on September 4, giving teams a short window to finalize their rosters and ensure they’re compliant with the new Chinese regulations.
Looking at the player list on the resource site, Leaguepedia, we can see several players without ages listed that are competing in LDL teams. It’s possible that these players don’t meet the 18 or older requirement to compete and will be barred from professional play in the LDL. As of the writing of this article, there are over 100 players that could be unable to continue their careers as esports professionals.
Alternatives to Domestic Esports Competition
Chinese esports organizations are just now responding to the initial rollout of these new regulations in attempts to remain compliant. There’s no evidence that these rosters changes will be permanent. These players will lose their opportunity at esports careers. Things that happen right now are reactionary at best and do not inform what will become a norm in the future.
Even if they do, there are opportunities for Chinese players outside of domestic competition. Nearby SEA and Asia-Pacific regions have their own sanctioned leagues and tournaments that exist outside of these regulations. Not to mention, there’s a precedent in League of Legends for bringing Chinese talent abroad for competition, as seen with LMQ’s move to North America’s League Championship in 2014. Whether this is still possible in today’s current esports climate is unknown.
Overall, LDL’s push to follow the new online gaming regulations shows that these regulations do influence the Chinese esports scene. There will be space for teams to adjust and find solutions, but the immediate priority is to ensure everyone’s compliance.
China’s currently in the reactionary stage of responding to these regulations, so there are chances we’ll see extreme changes in the future until things settle down and there’s time to plan alternative solutions.