The Global Poker League (GPL) is looking to tap into the growing e-sports market in China with the launch of an exclusive China-focused poker league. GPL founder Alexandre Dreyfus founded the GPL with the objective to sportify poker and attract those currently not interested in the traditional poker formats.
The inaugural GPL season just wrapped up last week in which Montreal Nationals won the first Global Poker League Championship beating Berlin Bears in the final round.
Although the first season was not as successful as anticipated, it did attempt to introduce innovative elements into the game.
Global Poker Index
Dreyfus announced the creation of GPL China earlier this week, stating that it will seek to encourage the growth of poker as an e-sport in China. He has often mentioned that the next poker boom will occur in Asia and in China particularly.
A local media report puts the country’s gaming market to be the largest in the world with over 17 million active gamers and estimates the market to be around $17 billion. Gambling is banned in Mainland China but poker is seen mostly as a sport. The ambiguity in its classification has often led to poker tournaments being constantly shutdown as some officials view it as gambling. According to Dreyfus, the GPL would be promoted as a mind sport and a team-based skill game in China.
Following the similar design as that of the main GPL, the China version will have eight teams each representing a city. They will be battling it out through several rounds of Texas hold’em poker games. The GPL China teams have been already named, though the team managers will be announced over the next two months.
The teams are: Beijing Great Dragons, Guanghzou Pioneers, Shanghai Golden Tigers, Hangzho Legends, Shenzhen Eagles, Xi’an Warriors, Tianjin Guardians and Chengdu Pandas. As seen in the GPL, team members are picked by team managers based on Global Poker Index (GPI) Rankings, celebrity power and online qualifiers. Several industry observers expect that Asian celebrities would be wooed by team managers to join the teams.
The launch date for GPL China is yet to be announced but there are indications that the inaugural season will start after the spring festival in China. It will operate separately from Season 2 of the GPL. The games will be shown live online and through live streams both within China and globally through partnerships with local and international media companies.