China Weiqi League
Teams: 24, 12 each in the A- and B-leagues.
Tournament Type: Round-robin (A-league)
Sponsor: Jinli Mobile (金立手机 - jīn lì shǒu jī)
Cup Title: Jinli Mobile Cup (金立手机杯 - jīn lì shǒu jī bēi)
Past Results: China Weiqi League Results
China Weiqi League, also known as China national team league, is one of the most important tournemants in China. It is similar to professional leagues in other sport games. Small teams of professionals representing a city or, less commonly, a region/province compete with each other in an annual round-robin tournament that attracts high levels of sponsorship and interest.
The league replaced an earlier team tournament that took place during a single annual congress-style meeting. The current format began in 1999 with two leagues of twelve teams, with each team comprising six professional players, one coach and one manager.
In order for some fluidity between the teams, and presumably to encourage both fan interest and sponsorship deals, a small number of inter-team transfers are permitted at the end of each year. International players may also be invited to a team, although each team is limited to a single foreign player. The most notable outsider currently taking part in the weiqi league was the Korean player Yi Se-tol, who represents Team Guizhou.
The A-league (围甲联赛 - wéi jiǎ lián sài) teams take part in an all-play-all round-robin tournament that runs from April or May until December, with a short break in the summer. Each team plays each other team twice during the league for a total of twenty-two rounds. The format of the competition is somewhat fluid, and depends partially on the wishes of the sponsors. It is possible that the format may change in the future.
Four members from each team take part in one round of the league, playing a single game against an opposing team member. A-league games are played with two hours and forty minutes of main time, followed by five periods of 60-second byo-yomi. Of the four games played per match, one is a "speed" game under stricter time limits (thirty seconds for the first move, then ten periods of 60-second byo-yomi) in order to be suitable for broadcast on television.
The A-league functions on a points system, with the team with the highest score at the end of the year taking the title. Winning a match gains the winning team two points (3 points from 2007), with no points awarded to the losing team. In the case of a draw each team gains one point, however an extra point is awarded to the team whose captain wins their game.
As in many professional sports leagues, each team in the weiqi league has its own corporate sponsor. The competition itself also has an overall sponsor that lends its name to the cup title. The current league sponsor is Jinli Mobile (金立手机 - jīn lì shǒu jī). The weiqi league also has government sponsorship from the Chinese Department of Sport.
The B-league (围乙联赛 - wéi yǐ lián sài) is much less formal than the A-league, serving largely as qualifying tournament for teams to enter the A-league. The format of the B-league competition is similar to that which existed before the formation of the city leagues; an annual tournament takes place in which seven rounds are played over the course of ten days. The two highest ranked teams in the B-league are promoted to the A-league, whilst the lowest ranked teams of the A-league are demoted. Despite its less formal setup, competition in the B-league is fierce, with international players being employed by teams at this level in order to earn promotion to the more lucrative A-league.
The current teams in the A-league, in no particular order, are: Team Chongqing, Team Guizhou, Team Shandong, Team Beijing, Team Beijing (Daixing), Team Beijing (Ocean), Team Shanghai, Team Yunnan, Team Guangxi, Team Wuhan, Team Xicai and Team Canton. Team Shanghai is known as a force to be reckoned with, containing the current Samsung Cup title holder Cháng Hào. Current Tianyuan and Mingren title-holder Gǔ Lì represents Team Chongqing.
The current state of the league, with both scores and game records, is constantly updated at Mr. Kin's Go News website: http://igo-kisen.hp.infoseek.co.jp/al.html
Official website (Chinese only): http://games.sports.cn/zhuanti/weijia/index.html
tealeaf's disclaimer: There is not a great deal of current information in English concerning the China weiqi league. What I have written here is a combination of information that I have gleaned from various sources on the web, and through personal communications. My Chinese is poor enough to make detailed research difficult! Thanks are due to Li Yue, Mace Lee and a few other Chinese friends. Any corrections, updates or pointers to more information are very welcome!
John F. It's a small thing but this name grates on me. (tealeaf's edit: this refers to the previous name of this page: "Chinese City League".) There is nothing in the Chinese name about cities. I was the one who introduced that idea into the name when I was MSO go editor and had to make everything exciting. I called it the Chinese Cities League and wrote it up as a soccer franchise. That wasn't so daft, because many of the sponsors then were the owners of the local soccer clubs, and the idea of player transfers - new in go - was very much in line with soccer.
Also in my mind was the fact that the cup name of the league varied almost from year to year, according to the sponsor. There was the Jiangling Cup, the Haomao Cup, the Outlets Cup and now the Jinli Cup. I wanted a fixed name, so made one up.
The event began as an emergency measure in 1999. Stars were increasingly ignoring the long-standing national individual and team tournaments as these had prestige but no prize money, especially once state backing had weakened and many players had to fund their own travel and accommodation. There were also concerns about the declining state of women's go in China, and pockets of deprivation - several provinces had far less than their proportionate share of professionals. Not having a fixed name for such an emergency event was no surprise, especially one that seemed temporary. However, we know now that the concept proved serendipitously popular, and now there is a fixed name in Chinese, which I render as China Weiqi League (no mention of sponsor).
More precisely, the form I use in the GoGoD collection is, e.g. 2007 China Weiqi League, Division A. I prefer that to Cities League because the huge popularity of the event meant it was copied in Korea (and was also eyed up as a possibility in Japan). The Koreans experimented for a year with a Dream League but settled into what I render as Korean Baduk League. They are not quite the same event. The teams in Korea are rather artificially put together and they follow the baseball franchise format rather than soccer, but in essence the two events are similar. That is why I prefer similar names, and I'd recommend using that format.
However, if Cities League is retained, could I plead for it to be called that (plural), as originally intended, and not City League (singular).