Fresh vic­tory marks new es­ports height

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Front Page - By SHI FUTIAN shi­fu­tian@chi­

For mil­lions of Chi­nese es­ports fans, this year marks a new apex of ex­cite­ment for the gam­ing com­mu­nity, es­pe­cially af­ter the coun­try’s stel­lar show­ing over the week­end in a key com­pe­ti­tion.

Chi­nese es­ports club In­vic­tus Gam­ing de­feated Euro­pean club Fnatic 3-0 to claim the cham­pi­onship at the 2018 League of Le­gends World Cham­pi­onship in In­cheon, South Korea, on Satur­day night. It was the first time that a club from China’s League of Le­gends Pro League won the ti­tle in the world cham­pi­onship’s eight-year his­tory.

The long-awaited vic­tory led to a flurry of ac­tiv­ity on so­cial me­dia with views on re­lated news hit­ting the bil­lions on Weibo. At least a dozen of the top 50 most trendy Weibo top­ics that night were about China’s vic­tory of the world cham­pi­onship.

“Win­ning the world cham­pi­onship is un­real for me and I never thought it could be­come a re­al­ity,” said Yu Wenbo, aka Jack­eylove, an es­ports player with club IG.

Yu was not the only one bowled over as China’s es­ports ex­perts sur­prised the na­tion over and over again this year.

Team China par­tic­i­pated in three of the six es­ports events at the 2018 Asian Games in Au­gust, which in­cluded es­ports as a demon­stra­tion sport for the first time in the Asiad’s his­tory in Jakarta, Indonesia, when China pock­eted two golds and a sil­ver.

The vic­to­ries and the pop­u­lar­ity of es­ports are the in­evitable re­sult of a dra­mat­i­cally grow­ing es­ports mar­ket in China.

China’s es­ports mar­ket value reached 5 bil­lion yuan ($750 mil­lion) last year, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Chi­nese tech gi­ant Ten­cent. Last year, there were 250 mil­lion Chi­nese gamers and fans, and the fig­ure is pro­jected to rise to 300 mil­lion by 2020.

Al­though es­ports will also be a medal event at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games in Zhe­jiang prov­ince, the road to the Olympics seems bumpy.

Ken­neth Fok, pres­i­dent of the Asian Elec­tronic Sports Fed­er­a­tion, said: “It’s a very good first step, and we will take down ob­sta­cles, step by step.”

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