The story appears on

Page A2

November 6, 2017

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Business » IT

Video game warriors slaying the dragons

MORE than 40,000 spectators, giant screens, players glued to their keyboards and more than US$1 million prize money for the winners — welcome to the world of eSports in China, a country that has become a leader in competitive video game playing.

The final of the world championships for League of Legends, one of the most popular video games, took place on Saturday in Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest,” the national stadium built for the 2008 Olympic Games.

“The atmosphere is great! It’s better than at home, no?” said Yu Yating, a 23-year-old dressed in a long green wig, white minidress and a plastic golden scepter.

“I’ve been playing League of Legends since 2013 because I love the monster fights, it relaxes me,” she said, as screams broke out in the stands when the competitors arrived, ready to do battle.

Soon, one of the players slaughtered a virtual dragon, prompting howls of excitement.

“Oh, huge!” said 19-year-old student Qian Feng, one of the spectators following the multi-player game on three giant screens practically the height of the stadium.

Two-thirds of the audience were male, between 15 and 35. Some, like Qian, had traveled hundreds of kilometers to watch the final in person.

“ESports have taken off in China because all young people have a computer now,” he said.

Tickets for the event cost between 280 and 1,280 yuan (US$42 and US$193) and sold out in minutes, with touts offering them at up to 13,000 yuan.

The size of the audience for the League of Legends final, a game owned by Chinese Internet giant Tencent, matched that of the 2017 Europa League final between Manchester United and Ajax — without including the tens of thousands of fans streaming the match live online.

The packed event showcased China’s ambition to become the world leader for electronic sports, or eSports.

The fast growing activity sees teams of professional video game players fight for large sums of money in front of an audience, usually in multipurpose arenas or stadiums. And its popularity is only expected to grow.

There are currently 191 million eSports fans, and numbers are projected to increase by 20 percent by 2020, according to video game specialists Newzoo.

As purists question if video games qualify as a sport, eSports inch closer to official recognition after last weekend’s meeting of Olympic representatives in Lausanne, Switzerland, left open the possibility of a future Olympics event.

Meanwhile, eSports is set to have its own category at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou.

“I also play traditional sports, badminton,” said Li Hangtian, a 22-year-old student. “But China is very populous, it is sometimes difficult and expensive to reserve a court, whereas I can practice eSports with my roommates where and when I want. A computer is enough.”

Global turnover from eSports is currently US$696 million, with Newzoo predicting US$1.5 billion in the next three years.

Asia could be its future, with China currently accounting for “around 15-20 percent of global eSports revenue,” said Ignat Bobrovich, chief executive of TwogNation, an international eSports management agency.

“North America is the biggest market for now, at 35-40 percent. But in two years’ time, Asia, which is home to half the world’s eSports fans, will easily outstrip this,” he added.

Saturday’s face-off featured two South Korean teams, with Samsung Galaxy beating SK Telecom T1 3-0 and pocketing around US$1.7 million in winnings.



Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend