WSOP AND ASIA’S TENCENT REACH MULTI-YEAR DEAL TO GROW THE GAME IN ASIA
Tencent, a leading provider of internet services globally, has struck a multi-year agreement with Caesars Interactive Entertainment’s World Series of Poker (WSOP), to spread poker’s most popular brand throughout Asia in a variety of innovative ways over the coming years. The deal was announced at the opening of the 48th annual WSOP Main Event, by Ty Stewart, Executive Director of WSOP and Jerry Chen, Corporate Vice President of Tencent Group and President of Quantum & Lightspeed Studio Group.
The goal of the WSOP-Tencent strategic alliance is to help educate and grow the competitive game of poker in Asia, using the digital expertise, reach and distribution of Tencent, combined with the WSOP’s tournament expertise, brand value and authority. Together we hope to inspire and educate the next generation of competitive players and provide an opportunity for anyone to become a world champion. The alliance will also seek to include elements inspired by eSports in future events, to further bring the competitive and strategic thinking of poker to a broader crowd.
For the first time in its history, WSOP will develop a program for Tencent to help train and certify poker tournament staff and provide expertise on event structures, rules, equipment, procedures, etc., to ensure any live poker events in Asia use the globally-recognized standards of the World Series of Poker, the longest-running poker tournament series, dating back to 1970.
“There is so much untapped potential in Asia and we’ve found the perfect partner in Tencent to help spread the great game throughout the entire continent,” said Stewart. “We plan to use the WSOP brand and our expertise, along with Tencent’s reach in Asia, to inspire the next generation of competitive sport players.”
Tencent has also been granted exclusive merchandise rights to the WSOP brand in Asia, and is expected to design, manufacture and sell WSOP-branded goods. Tencent will also have media content distribution and production rights in Asia, including livestreaming of events and reality-based programs.
“We are very excited to partner with WSOP and hope to leverage our expertise in eSports to bring new innovations to the competitive game of poker,” said Chen.
Tencent Poker, launched in 2014, is the most popular play-for-fun social poker app in China, developed by Tencent, a leading internet company with a multitude of online and mobile games in its portfolio.
The Tencent Poker social game will soon offer a WSOP branded game zone promoting the competitive spirit of poker with interactive content, as well as a portal for potential land based tournaments. The Tencent Poker App will continue and remain a free-to-play app.
As part of the successful digital game, Tencent has started hosting land-based poker events under the Tencent Poker Tour banner in Sanya, Hainan, China annually in December. These qualifying live events with no entry fee are proving popular and as such, the WSOP will assist Tencent to help ensure operationally they are run efficiently and provide guests with a first-rate poker experience. Upon the announcement, Tencent is also planning the first ever WSOP China online qualifiers via its Tencent Poker app in August 2017, with the first WSOP China event in December 2017.
Partnership plans include land-based events such as WSOP China and WSOP Asia featuring the game’s most coveted trophies – WSOP gold bracelets. In addition, WSOP China Circuit events awarding gold rings are also expected to be developed. Any events held in mainland China will be free-to-play offerings designed to showcase the fun, social and competitive nature of poker, assisting participants in learning both the rules and the skills required to successfully compete. Any events (including those in mainland China) must adhere to applicable laws and regulations in the jurisdictions they occur.
Any live events organized by Tencent and integrating the WSOP brand will involve media components with live event reporting, live streaming and potential television distribution to help spread awareness of poker in the region.
As plans develop, future announcements will be made related to this agreement.