On the rise
China emerges in the world’s professional video-gaming field
The lucrative prizes, the government support and the big video-gaming population have led to China emerging as a force to be reckoned with in the world’s professional videogaming landscape.
Nearly one-third of the teams qualified to battle for The International DOTA 2 Championships — the biggest e-sports competition offering the highest prize in the world — are from China.
The annual e-sports premier tournament, which kicked off in Seattle in the early morning of Tuesday Beijing time, saw 16 of the finest e-sports teams worldwide battling for a prize pool of more than $20 million and five out of all the 16 teams are from China.
According to the official website of this year’s competition, which is known as TI6, DOTA 2 fans worldwide have raised a record $20 million plus for the total prize pool and the five-member team which gets the first place is expected to scoop a whopping $8.85 million.
Zhang Yunfan, president of Perfect World Games, a Beijingonline gaming company that operates DOTA 2 in China, said that the rising status of Chinese teams on the world stage is in line with the growing popularity of e-sports in China.
Chinese teams first participated in the annual tournament in 2011 with all of the four teams being invited to directly join the competition.
According to a report from China BusinessNews, asmany as 117 Chinese professional video gamers won a total of $690,000, accounting for 7.05 percent of the total e-sports prize worldwide in 2011. By 2014, Chinese e-sports players had become the biggest winners in e-sports with their prizes totaling $12.01 million, accounting for one-third of the total in the world.
Kenneth Chang, deputy secretary of the organizing committee of the China Universities E-sports League, said the large size of the online gaming population and the high frequency of professional game players taking part in various competitions were the main reasons fueling the rapid growth of China’s e-sports market.
“Plus, the General Administration of Sport set up an e-sports national team in 2013, which signaled the government’s support in professional video gaming,” he said.
“With more and more gaming companies offering lucrative rewards for game players, the e-sports has gotten onto the fast track of development in China,” he added.
The United States is leading the global e-sports market, with a 38 percent share of the estimated $463 million revenues in 2016, according to figures from research firm Newzoo. But it also said that China and Southeast Asia would lead in audience growth.
Just like any professional sports, e-sports is also a winor-nothing business. Only quite few get their hands on millions of dollars in prizes.
“Many of the young professional players face challenges with low prize payments and short careers, which will eventually damage the overall environment of e-sports,” said PerfectWorld Games’ Zhang.
“We want to step up to standardize e-sports competition to make professional video gaming more like a regular sports competition and less like a show,” Zhang added.