Esports pioneer Dino Ying talks to TechCrunch about the next phase of VSPN

No Comments »

Following the news that China’s esport giant VSPN (Versus Programming Network) has raised close to $100 million in a Series B funding round, led by Tencent Holdings, TechCrunch interviewed founder and CEO Dino Ying via email about his strategy for the company.

Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Shanghai, VSPN was one of the early pioneer in esports tournament organization and content creation out of Asia. It has since expanded into other businesses including offline venue operation.

VSPN began hosting the first large-scale esport event with offline audiences in August, although tournaments now operate under strict COVID-19 prevention measures.

TechCrunch: VSPN has a large content production ecosystem surrounding its esports activity. Can you expand on the detail behind your stated short-form video strategy? Will this involve TikTok?

Ying: VSPN intends to use our world-class video production capabilities and industry insights to create different forms of content. We will give our existing fans and a wider audience a new and vivid esports experience. Kuaishou, as our investors and a strategic partner, will support in all ways as a media platform to help our content reach more users. Short-form video is an important part of our future strategy and we look forward to working with platforms all over the world in this regard.

TC: What is VSPN’s share of the eSports market?

Ying: There is no official estimation of the size of the esports market but VSPN is far the largest esports organization in China, with over 1000+ employees and covering every major esports tournament you’ve ever heard of. By many measures, we are the largest esports organization in the world and will continue to expand.

TC: Why do you think Shanghai has become a center for esports?

Ying: As the biggest and perhaps most international city in China, it has a vibrant and increasingly sophisticated economy. Tech innovation and new industries are actively encouraged to grow here.

The Shanghai government has implemented supportive measures and policies to encourage the growth of esports both domestically and internationally. Thanks to these measures Shanghai has become an international hub for the biggest and best tournaments in the world

VSPN events have returned, despite COVID-19

VSPN events have returned, despite COVID-19

TC: How important is research into eSports for VSPN and why?

Ying: It is vital for VSPN. As an esports total solutions provider aiming to build a sustainable global esports ecosystem, data and R&D allows us to give our fans a richer experience. The research center will allow us to continually improve as a company and develop the industry.

TC: You are the cofounder and chairman and CEO by title. What is the role of cofounder Ethan Teng?

Ying: Ethan Teng is Co-founder and president of VSPN. Ethan as one of the most important partners of VSPN, with his dedicated esports industry experience, he plays a vital role in leading and managing the company’s strategic goal setting and day to day management.

TC: What is the nature of the strategic relationship with Tencent?

Ying: VSPN is a key partner of Tencent in the esports industry. With Tencent’s support, VSPN has built a leading position in esports tournament content production. Since the emergence of esports in China, our deep-rooted industry expertise has helped further develop the esports ecosystem to grow and mature. Alongside Tencent we will continue to generate new opportunities within the industry.

TC: What made you choose these partners and why? What was the strategic thinking behind these decisions?

Ying: Together with Kuaishou, VSPN aims to establish an esports short-form video ecosystem to diversify existing content, and to build the connections between top quality creators and channels. With an extensive portfolio in the consumer and TMT sectors, both Tiantu Capital and SIG will utilize their industry insights and expertise to aid VSPN’s strategic development. With our investors, we will empower esports to be the new sports for the next generation.

TC: In addition to the core esports tournament and content production business, VSPN has branded esports venues. How important are these other businesses – like the venues – to the core offering of VSPN? What sort of growth do you expect in the next few years?

Ying: Regardless of business lines, VSPN’s core mission is to provide the best eSports experiences for our fans. And these experiences include not just online viewing experiences, but also offline ones where fans physically attend. We see our offline business as a natural way to extend our services to our fans; it is an important supplement to our overall offerings. We expect to grow it per our fans’ and partner’s demands.

TC: Mobile esports, especially the KPL and PUBG MOBILE (or Peacekeeper Elite in China), have attracted more and more female audiences. What is the future of eSports among women / girls?
Ying: Mobile gaming has really helped extend eSports’ reach to female participants and audiences. Rightfully so, we see a future of eSports where female participants take a more prominent role than they have done. Not just on stage as athletes, but also off stage as fans and more importantly backstage as top quality producers and decision-makers in the industry. The impact of having more female fans, athletes and professionals is exciting and will be hugely beneficial to the wider industry.

TC: What is the future of esports in Augmented Reality?

Ying: We think eSports in its full form will look and feel a lot different from what we’ve seen so far in sports and entertainment. The possibility of integrating real world gaming and virtual competitions is fascinating. VSPN is only beginning to test the boundaries of new technologies such as AR, VR. The emergence of these technologies will help us create fresher experiences, and the possibilities are endless.

VSPN headquarters

VSPN headquarters

TC: Please tell us more about your personal history?

Ying: Firstly, thank you for having me – it is a real pleasure to speak to TechCrunch and be able to announce our fundraise to the world. I have been working in the gaming and esports industry all my life and I’m excited about the future. With the team at VSPN we are proud to be pioneers in the esports industry.

I live between Beijing and Shanghai, but I spend a lot of my time travelling to other Chinese cities like Xi’an, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shenzhen where we have esports arenas and business interests. Usually I travel internationally to some of our overseas operations and competitions, so I look forward to that when travel becomes easier.

I am a fan of traditional sports too and an avid football fan. I follow some of the European leagues – whenever I can, I go to matches to enjoy the atmosphere; I went to Stamford Bridge early this year and loved it, but seeing the AC vs Inter Derby live is hard to beat…

TC: Why did you get into this business and how?

Ying: Mostly because I am a HUGE gaming fan! I’ve been playing computer games since I was a teenager and enjoy playing all types. Earlier this year I played COD Warzone as soon as it came out and often play PUBG Mobile; I’m extremely lucky to be in an industry which I’ve loved since I was very young. It’s a great way to connect with friends and I am proud to have worked in game development and publishing for my whole career. 5 years ago, esports seemed like the obvious next step because of the competitive element. We saw the beginnings of a trend and founded VSPN with a world-class team to make that potential a reality.

VSPN is very proud to be leading the world in a relatively new industry. We think esports will continue to grow exponentially and will be an incredibly important part of the entertainment industry in years to come. To lead a Chinese company with a global future is really exciting.

TC: What motivates you as a businessman?

Ying: Bringing new forms of entertainment to millions of people around the world and building a global business.

TC: Who inspires you most in the business world?

There are so many fantastic businessmen in China who are doing some really innovative things at the moment. For example, the live-streaming industry has become enormous in 2020 due to the pandemic and has offered entrepreneurs a new way to sell products and engage with new audiences.

If I had to name one it would be Mark Ren (COO at Tencent Holdings) – he is an exceptional businessman. The way he has helped create sustainable ecosystems in the entertainment space and captured trends is something every businessman should aspire to. This is something VSPN works hard at and we are very proud to be such close partners of Tencent.

TC: What is your opinion of Silicon Valley?

Ying: It’s an amazing place and has shown the world how technology can improve lives all over the world. For many years it has led the world as a centre for creativity and innovation and continues to be an inspiration to entrepreneurs around the world. In China, we have lots of Silicon Valleys!

TC: Is there anything else you’d like to say to TechCrunch readers?

Ying: This has been a challenging year for many businesses and the esports industry has had to adapt, but I think the world has seen how big esports is and how it can bring communities and cultures together. As the industry grows there will bigger and bigger online and offline tournaments across the world, especially with 5G and mobile gaming becoming even more popular. We look forward to being at the forefront of esports for competitors all over the world and hopefully some of your readers will enjoy watching our original content and tournaments.

Finally, with celebrities and big brands seeing live streaming and casual gaming as a new way to engage with a wider audience, the future for VSPN is very, very bright.

October 26th 2020 Uncategorized

You Can Cook Mouth-Watering Pork Crackling In An Air Fryer

No Comments »

The perfect pork crackling is very crispy, but not smoky or burnt. The balance can be hard to strike, particularly if you’re not used to cooking pork or you’re using an older, more sensitive oven. There’s also another layer of added difficulty: you want the crackling crisp, but the pork nice and juicy. If you overcook the crackling, you’ll end up with hard, chewy pork. Luckily, there’s an answer: use an air fryer.

To prepare pork crackling for the air fryer, all you need to do is rub copious salt on that bad boy, let it sit and chuck it in the bottom of your air fryer to cook. It’s super simple, low effort and incredibly tasty.

For my purposes, I used a $579 Philips Air Fryer XXL. You don’t have to fork out that much for an air fryer that’ll do the job, but if you’re looking for the best (and easiest) results, the investment is worth it.

You’ll also need a meat thermometer, which should run you close to $15-30. (It’s also very handy for other recipes.)

Here’s how you can achieve the crispiest, best-tasting pork crackling of your life:

Image: Lifehacker Australia
  1. Rub salt flakes onto your pork in a thin layer (smoked salt is a fantastic choice)
  2. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes
  3. Brush the pork with olive oil
  4. Stick a meat thermometer into your pork
  5. Line the air fryer’s basket with baking paper and place the pork in the basket
  6. Set the air fryer for 180 degrees Celsius and set the time based on your pork’s weight (for every 0.5 kilograms, add 25 minutes)
  7. In the cooking process, your pork’s internal temperature should hit 63 degrees Celsius (set the cooking timer for longer if needed)
  8. After the air fryer is done, let the pork sit for 5-10 minutes, then cut it

(Important note: When you’re putting baking paper into the air fryer, make sure you weigh it down. As I discovered the hard way, leaving baking paper in an air fryer that’s still on will lead to the baking paper getting sucked up and melted into the heating element.)

After all this is done, you can kick back and enjoy the crunch.

Stay tuned for a full review of the Philips Air Fryer XXL.

The post You Can Cook Mouth-Watering Pork Crackling In An Air Fryer appeared first on Lifehacker Australia.


Related Stories


October 26th 2020 Uncategorized

Tencent leads $100M Series B funding round into China-based esport provider VSPN

No Comments »

Further confirmation that the esports market is booming amid the pandemic comes today with the news that esports ‘total solutions provider’ VSPN (Versus Programming Network) has raised what it describes as ‘close to’ $100 million in a Series B funding round, led by Tencent Holdings . Other investors that participated in the round include Tiantu Capital, SIG (Susquehanna International Group), and Kuaishou. The funding round will go towards improving esports products and its ecosystem in China and across Asia.

Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Shanghai, VSPN was one of the early pioneers in esports tournament organization and content creation out of Asia. It has since expanded into other businesses including offline venue operation.

In a statement, Dino Ying, CEO of VSPN (see also our exclusive interview) said: “We are delighted to announce this latest round of funding. Thanks to policies supporting Shanghai as the global center for esports, and with Beijing, Chengdu, and Xi’an expressing confidence in the development of esports, VSPN has grown rapidly in recent years. After this funding round, we look forward to building an esports research institute, an esports culture park, and further expanding globally. VSPN has a long-term vision and is dedicated to the sustainable development of the global esports ecosystem.”

Dino Ying, VSPN CEO

Dino Ying, VSPN CEO

Mars Hou, general manager of Tencent Esports, commented: “VSPN’s long-term company vision and leading position in esports production are vital for Tencent to optimize the layout of the esports industry’s development.”

We had a hint that Tencent might invest in VSPN when, in March this year, Mark Ren, COO of Tencent Holdings, made a public statement that Tencent would provide more high-quality esports competitions in conjunction with tournament organizers like VSPN.

As we observed in August, Tencent, already the world’s biggest games publisher, that it would consolidate Douyu and Huya, the previously competing live-streaming sites focused on video games.

In other words, Tencent’s investment into VSPN shows it is once again doubling-down on the esports market.

This Series B funding round comes four years after VSPN’s 2016 Series A funding round, which was led by Focus Media Network, joined by China Jianteng Sports Industry Fund, Guangdian Capital, and Averest Capital.

Now, VSPN has become the principal tournament organizer and broadcaster for PUBG MOBILE international competitions, and China’s top competitions for Honor of Kings, PUBG, Peacekeeper Elite, CrossFire, FIFA, QQ Speed, and Clash Royale. This will tally-up 12,000 hours of original content. The company has partnered with over 70% of China’s esports tournaments.

In March, another huge esports player, ESL, joined forces with Tencent to become a part of the PUBG Mobile esports circuit for 2020.

In addition to its core esports tournament and content production business, VSPN has branded esports venues in Chengdu, Xi’an, and Shanghai. In May, VSPN launched its first overseas venue, V. SPACE in Seoul, South Korea.

And even offline events are coming back. VSPN hosted the first large-scale esport event with offline audiences in August this year. And the LOL S10 event will open 6,000 tickets. However, all tournaments will operate under strict COVID-19 prevention measures and approval processes by the Chinese government, and not all esports events are allowing offline audiences. In the main, only high-level ones are approved.

VSPN said it will continue to focus on building an esports short-form video ecosystem, improving the quality of esports content creation, and reaching more users via different channels. VSPN currently houses more than 1,000 employees in five business divisions.

October 26th 2020 RSS

Domino’s Pizza Roulette Will Haunt You With Ghost Peppers This Halloween

No Comments »

Have you ever found the experience of ordering and eating pizza to be too calming and comfortable? Well, Domino’s are going to be “possessing” a single slice of their Halloween Roulette pizzas with Ghost Pepper-based hot sauce. The kicker is, though, that they won’t be telling you which slice the hot sauce will be on.

Ghost Peppers (aka Bhut Jolokia) have a Scoville score of up to 1,041,427SHU. That means it is more than 200 times spicier than a jalapeno pepper. It was the first pepper to scientifically measure a Scoville score of 1 million SHU. It is six times spicier than a habanero pepper. It is the 7th spiciest pepper in the world (though undeniably the most famous). It’s almost half as spicy as the world’s spiciest pepper, the ominously named Carolina Reaper, which clocks in at 2.2million SHU, and was bred from a Ghost Pepper and a Red Habanero.

What I’m saying is that it is an extremely spicy pepper.

A fun fact is that “spiciness” isn’t actually a flavour, rather than a sensation of pain and heat caused by the capsaicin hitting your tongue. Capsaicin isn’t just what makes chilis spicy, but also what makes pepper spray so very painful. And yet somehow that pain is delicious, so go figure.

In India, where the Ghost Pepper originated, the army has turned it into military-grade smoke bombs and in some towns, residents paint the ghost pepper oil on fences to discourage elephants. It’s like a spray bottle for cats, but on a much more intense scale.

The website recommends: “Ghost peppers are so spicy that special precautions should be taken in their handling. Wear gloves, at minimum to keep significant chili burn at bay. But if you’re sensitive to capsaicin (the compound that gives chilies their heat), then we recommend wearing eye goggles and even a face mask when handling the Bhut Jolokia.”

So, this Halloween pizza roulette promises to be the perfect 2020 treat: It’ll be a tonne of fun you can have at home, but when you least expect it, it’ll probably make you cry and want to throw up a little.

Domino’s Pizza are also releasing Halloween-themed cookies to go with the promotion, if you’re after more of a treat.

If you’re wanting to try your luck on pizza roulette, you’ll need to be quick: it’s only available from October 26 until November 1, unless sold out sooner. You can also try your luck at winning some hot sauce or cookies over at their Facebook page.

The post Domino’s Pizza Roulette Will Haunt You With Ghost Peppers This Halloween appeared first on Lifehacker Australia.


Related Stories


October 26th 2020 Uncategorized

Five of the Best Nipple Clamps and How to Use Them

No Comments »

It’s a well known fact that nipples are an extremely sensitive area of the body. They’re packed with nerve endings and react quickly and intensely to touch, so it makes sense that people want to play with them. Sure you can give them a little tweak with the fingers, but why not add a fun toy like nipple clamps to the mix?

Studies have shown that stimulating the nipples arouses the sensory cortex in the brain, which in turn arouses the genitals. This means that for some, orgasming from nipple stimulation alone is possible – hell yeah! Plus (if you like science) it’ll please you to know that nipple stimulation also floods the brain with Oxytocin (aka the love hormone), which is absolutely vital for climax. Just like a good cocktail, an orgasm requires all of the right ingredients and playing with your nipples is a surefire way to get you shaken and stirred in all the right ways.

Playing with nipples can be as simple as using fingers, lips and tongues, but if you fancy adding an accessory, why not opt for nipple clamps?

Not only do they provide a new sensation for you to explore, they also leave your hands free for other play.

Some nipple clamps are designed to create a firm pinch that hurts a little, but don’t confuse that with thinking that’s what all clamps do. In actual fact, there are loads of clamps available that are designed for anything but pain.

Other than intensity, nipple clamps all do the same thing. They pinch the nipple, which in itself stimulates the area, but they also squeeze blood out of the nipple temporarily.

Image: Thiago Santos/ iStock

On removal, the nipples experience a rush of blood to the area which leaves them pert, throbbing and ultra-sensitive to subsequent touches. Now is the perfect time for follow up with more strokes, licks and finger-pinches to make use of their new-found receptiveness to contact.

Many are adjustable and there are loads of different designs available for all sorts of experience levels, from complete newbie to pain-loving pro. Nipple clamps should never be worn for more than 10 minutes at a time to allow circulation to the nipples to return to normal.

If you think nipple clamp play is for you, check out my top five personal recommendations below.

Lovehoney Tease Me Silicone Tip Nipple Clamps

These nickel-free, silicone-tipped clamps are adjustable for tailored pinch, suitable for all skin types and a brilliant introduction to first-time nipple clamp play. They’re also really pretty and non-intimidating (in my humble opinion).

Bondage Boutique Adjustable Nipple Clamps with Chain

Another adjustable set of clamps for custom sensations, this set comes with a chain that’s perfect for tugging throughout play for added stimulation (or for simply keeping your clamps together between uses!)

Fifty Shades Darker At My Mercy Chained Nipple Clamps

A combination of the first two clamps, these Fifty Shades Darker clamps feature adjustable tweezer-style clamps with silicone tips and a decorative chain. Plus, they boast beginner-friendly weights that boost sensation, without being too intense.

DOMINIX Deluxe Adjustable Thumbscrew Nipple Clamps with Chain

Offering a totally different pinch to the other 4 designs, these DOMINIX chained clamps pinch the nipples from top and bottom, rather than the sides. This is great for anyone who fancies a slightly different sensation, or people with horizontal nipple piercings.

Lovehoney Tease Me Advanced Nipple Clamps with Heart Charms

Don’t be fooled by their jewellery-like appearance: these clamps are the most advanced of the 5 I’ve selected. With metal-on-nipple action and rounded balls that provide pronounced pinch, these are not for the faint-hearted. They are, however, great for people who want advanced nipple pinching and like the look of nipple piercings, but don’t want an actual hole through their nippy-nips.

Jess Wilde is a blogger and sex toy expert who writes for Lovehoney Australia. You can see a list of their best-selling products here.

The post Five of the Best Nipple Clamps and How to Use Them appeared first on Lifehacker Australia.


Related Stories


October 26th 2020 Uncategorized

Why The Blue Moon On Halloween Is So Rare

No Comments »

You know how people say that phrase “once in a blue moon”, meaning something is very rare? That’s an actual thing, and it doesn’t refer to the colour of the moon.

A typical lunar cycle is about 29.53 days, which doesn’t divide cleanly into the 365.24 days in a year on the Gregorian calendar (12.368 times, to be exact). The rotation of the Earth, our orbit of the sun, and the orbit of the moon relative to the sun not being on a clean schedule means that every now and then we’ll get two full moons in one month, which is what we now call a blue moon. That happens roughly once every 2.7 years, and sometimes happens twice in one year which is both cool and confusing.

A “blue moon” originally referred to having four full moons in a season instead of three. But, thanks to some misunderstandings and miscommunications around the Maine Farmer’s Almanac in the 1900s, it’s evolved to the current meaning. There is some dispute about whether the term originated in a pamphlet written in the 1500s by some Greenwich Friars complaining about the Roman clergy, which is the earliest use of the “blue moon” term. But that seems to be more a case of some dude named Jeff mocking the priests for thinking laymen will believe anything, rather than any deep astrological discovery.

With the history lesson out of the way, let’s get down to the spooky fact that there is going to be a blue moon on Halloween this year. What’s more is that it’s going to be a full moon for almost everyone worldwide on October 31, which is super rare.

The moon follows the 19-year Metonic cycle, which is how long it takes for the full moon to start happening on the same dates again. This is actually the cycle around which Greek Orthodox Easter is based, and was the basis for the Greek and Hebrew calendars long before the Gregorian calendar came into the picture. On this calendar, the months follow the moon instead of the sun, so every 2.7 Gregorian years, the Greek and Hebrew calendars have 13 months instead of 12, which is cool.

So, following that, there should be a blue moon on Halloween once every 19 years. Blue moons only happen when there’s a full moon at the beginning of the month and the very end, hence why Halloween gets so many. This means any full moon on Halloween will always be a blue moon. It’ll also be named a Hunter’s moon.

But the Metonic cycle doesn’t exactly line up with the Gregorian calendar, either – it’s 1 hour, 27 minutes and 33 seconds off, necessitating a leap day once every 216 or so years (which is still more accurate than the Gregorian calendar which needs a leap day every four years).

That means while there was a Halloween blue moon for some time zones in 2001, the last Halloween Full Moon that the whole world got to enjoy was 1944.

Unfortunately, while it is a blue moon for the whole world, it won’t be visible to most of Australia or any of New Zealand, which are in the only time zones to miss out. So, Western Australia, please go out and quietly howl at the full moon for all of us. Eastern Australia will likely get to see the next one in 2039, though, so mark your calendars.

The post Why The Blue Moon On Halloween Is So Rare appeared first on Lifehacker Australia.


Related Stories


October 26th 2020 Uncategorized

The Only Thing That Scares Lovecraft Country Creator Misha Green Is Playing It Safe

No Comments »

Misha Green finds new ways to terrify viewers with each episode of Lovecraft Country–from a haunted house to demonic twins–but the creator herself doesn’t frighten easily. “I very rarely get scared,” says Green. Well, except for one thing: “I guess stasis scares me: the idea of not growing, not challenging yourself, not being surprised.” Certainly…

October 26th 2020 Uncategorized

Media Newsletters Are Booming, and Substack’s Co-Founders Lit the Fuse

No Comments »

Last year, Substack’s only employees were its three co-founders: Hamish McKenzie, Chris Best and Jairaj Sethi. Now, the San Francisco-based startup has a bigger team–it’s up to 18 employees–and even bigger ambitions: trying to do nothing less than reinvigorate the flagging media industry. To do so, the trio–Adweek’s Publishing Executives of the Year–have built their…

October 26th 2020 Uncategorized

The 2020 Hot List: Honoring the Year’s Best in TV, Publishing, Digital and Brands

No Comments »

When the pandemic forced us all to begin sheltering in place in March, we leaned on TV, publishing and digital brands more than ever before to connect us with the outside world. So it’s no surprise that Adweek’s annual Hot List, which always honors the best in those three categories, is full of people and…

October 26th 2020 Uncategorized

Jon Favreau’s First-Ever TV Series Made Disney+ an Instant Streaming Powerhouse

No Comments »

Ahead of Disney+’s debut last November, Disney executives needed a showstopping original series to convince even more consumers–not just kids and families who were already likely to subscribe–that their new streamer was a must-have service. With Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian, they got exactly what they wished for. Written and executive produced by Favreau–Adweek’s TV Creator…

October 26th 2020 Uncategorized