Professional Video Gaming Hits the Big Time in China

Professional Video Gaming Hits the Big Time in China

When it comes to besieging an enemy stronghold with a combination of spells and swords, Ming Kai is a man whose talents eclipses those belonging to the people around him. The 24-year old player is one of the very best in the League of Legends game, which is one of the most popular multiplayer internet-based games in the world.

Kai Trains Every Day

Kai, who moved to Shanghai from the inland city of Wuhan to train alongside his teammates on one of China’s top LoL teams, EDwardGaming, revealed that he trains every day of the week. Generally, he will begin playing at the training centre for the eSports team, located in an office building, at around 14h00 and finish 13 hours later, although he will take breaks for food. As a member for the team for the past four years, Kai has managed to take home almost US$400 000 from the various tournaments he has taken part in, where the way he plays the game is viewed by paying spectators either onsite or online.

eSports Paying More and More

These kinds of eSports are starting to be more profitable for professional players like Kai, and Tencent Holdings and Alibaba Group Holding, two of the biggest Internet companies in China, are looking for their piece of the action too.

Tencent owns a majority stake in the League of Legends’ developer, Riot Games, and took over Finland’s Supercell last year, the makers of Clash of Clans, in a deal that totalled US$8.6 billion. Alibaba’s Alisports, meanwhile, is promoting eSports as equal to traditional sports, and are arguing that the games should feature in the Olympics. Perhaps online blackjack players can start a petition to have this king of casino games garner a spot as well?

Big eSports Tournaments Being Organised

Both Tencent and Alibaba are spending a lot of money organising tournaments in which teams like Kai’s face off inside an arena. On the 4th of November, in fact, about 40 000 fans watched the finals of the 2017 LoL World Championship unfold at the Beijing National Stadium, in which a prize pool of US$4.6 million was on the cards. Tickets for this Championship, the first of its kind to be held in China, were priced at between RMB¥280 and RMB¥1280, or US$42 to US$192, and sold out in a matter of minutes.

The Evolution of eSports in China

The PriceWaterhouseCooper advisory firm put the size of the Chinese eSports industry at an estimated US$56 million last year, making it the third largest globally, behind the USA and South Korea. PriceWaterhouseCooper sees this market increasing to around US$182 million by the year 2021. iResearch, an internet research company from China, estimates that the country’s paying eSports audience currently exceeds 170 million people.

Wilson Chow, Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Practice Leader for PriceWaterhouseCooper China, has stated that the evolution of eSports is very exciting, especially the staggering speed at which it is occurring in China.

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