Let the Games Begin
Gaming in China has gone from a casual pastime to a multi-billion-dollar industry By Hou Weili
Tan Jun can still feel the adrenalin rush he experienced in November while watching the world’s premier competitive gaming event at the 2017 League of Legends World Championship (LLWC). As an indication of the rocketing popularity of gaming, the grand-scale, full-house event took place in Beijing’s iconic National Stadium, dubbed the Bird’s Nest, which is usually reserved for major music concerts and international sporting events.
“The price of a single ticket for the final game fetched an amazing 6,666 yuan ($1,057), but still they were sold out,” Tan, 30, who runs an esports players’ team, told Beijing Review.
Held in China for the first time since the LLWC esports event was launched in 2010, the championship is regarded as a milestone in terms of public and commercial recognition of competitive gaming as a sport in China. According to the world’s leading gaming market research and predictive analytics firm, Newzoo, based in the Netherlands, the 2017 LLWC was the most watched event on Twitch, a U.S.-headquartered live streaming video platform focused on video gaming, generating $5.5 million in ticket sales. In China 10 years ago, the esports business was bleak due to lack of sponsorship and limited awareness. In 2011, Wang Sicong, the only son of Chinese real estate tycoon, Wang Jianlin, opened a lot of doors for the sector with his reputation and money.
In August 2017, Wang pledged to integrate the esports industry on his Weibo account, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. He invested heavily in the sector, buying a dying team for about $6 million and renaming it Invictus Gaming or iG. In 2012, iG won first place in the International Dota2 Championships in Seattle, claiming the prize money of $1 million.
Wang expanded his esports interests to