Hi-Rez Studios' colorful, free-to-play team-based shooter Paladins: Champions of the Realm is technically still in beta, but that hasn't deterred Chinese giant Tencent from cutting a deal to bring it to China.
What's interesting here is that Tencent has long held a dominant position in the country's F2P online shooter market because it operates Smilegate's popular game Crossfire in China.
However, that dominance might be slipping. Blizzard's vibrant team-based FPS Overwatch drew millions of players after it launched earlier this year -- and it's longtime Blizzard partner NetEase, not Tencent, that's operating Overwatch in China.
Back in June NetEase chief William Lei reportedly said that his company had secured the rights to operate Overwatch in the region because "if this game becomes a successful hit in China, which we believe is highly likely, it might potentially attract away some existing FPS players [from] Tencent's platform."
It's unclear whether that's the case, but what is clear is that Tencent is putting a bit of effort into bringing Paladins to China and supporting it as a potential eSport.
As part of the deal with Hi-Rez, the Chinese firm plans to host a series of "activities" this year to find the best Chinese Paladins players, with the ultimate goal of sending the top Chinese Paladins teams to Atlanta, Georgia (Hi-Rez's stomping ground) in January to compete in the inaugural Paladins Invitational Tournament.