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August 1, 2016

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E-sports makes it to big leagues

WHAT was once regarded as a frivolous leisure activity for couch potatoes has gained acceptance as an actual sport.

Competitive video gaming, known as E-sports, is attracting big audiences and creating business opportunities for game developers, event hosts and hardware makers, Shanghai Daily learned at the Chinajoy fair at the Shanghai New International Expo Center yesterday.

In 2016, more than 350,000 professional players will attend the WCA (World Cyber Arena), the world’s largest third-party E-sports event, which is organized by the government of Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

China, like South Korea, North America and Europe, has shown great potential for E-sports, especially since the State Sports General Administration recognized it as one of the country’s 99 official sports in 2003, speakers told the Global E-Sports Executive Summit organized by the WCA and International e-Sports Federation.

In 2019, global revenue generated by E-sports is expected to hit US$1 billion, triple the level seen in 2015, attracting an audience of 435 million worldwide, double the number in 2015, according to research carried out by Dell Inc.

The booming E-sports sectors in China and South Korea will create huge opportunities for hardware makers such as Intel, Nvidia and Alienware, a sub-brand of Dell targeting high-end users, say observers.

“Players are willing to pay for a US$2,000 computer to win a competition offering a prize of US$2 million,” Frank Azor, Dell Alienware’s general manager, told the forum.

Alienware and other top game firms, including Tencent, NetEase, Blizzard and Giant, offered E-sports spaces and products during the fair.

Chinajoy, the biggest annual game show in Shanghai, ended yesterday. About 900 exhibitors attracted 325,500 visitors in four days, up 19.2 percent over last year.


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