Cities comp be­come espo

Lo­cal busi­nesses on the to win tourism and p

Global Times US Edition - - BIZIN -

Es­ports is flour­ish­ing as a business in China, and with fans and ath­letes in­vest­ing and bring­ing in a sus­tain­able amount of money, cities are now com­pet­ing to be­come the Chi­nese es­ports hub, hop­ing to grab more mar­ket shares in the in­dus­try.

In the late 1990s, the World Cy­ber Games were es­tab­lished in South Korea and they in­tro­duced the con­cept of es­ports to main­stream con­scious­ness. How­ever, most peo­ple at the time did not re­gard es­ports as gen­uine sports, and most pro­fes­sional play­ers were dis­re­garded by fam­ily and so­ci­ety. At this time, video games were still con­sid­ered “elec­tronic heroin” in the eyes of older gen­er­a­tions.

Since then, es­ports has been grow­ing in China. After the es­tab­lish­ment of an es­ports club al­liance and a live broad­cast plat­form, the Chi­nese es­ports in­dus­try emerged un­der an in­flux of cap­i­tal. In 2018, the Asian Games in Jakarta in­cluded es­ports as a for­mal project for the first time, and it is even ex­pected to en­ter the Paris Olympics in 2024, be­com­ing a com­pet­i­tive ac­tiv­ity along­side ta­ble ten­nis and swim­ming.

As­pir­ing city

Shang­hai is one of the cities most am­bi­tious to be­come the cen­ter of the es­ports in­dus­try in China. Back at the end of Novem­ber 2018, Shang­hai be­came the first city in China to adopt a reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem for es­ports ath­letes. On Satur­day, the 2019 Global Es­ports Con­fer­ence was held in Shang­hai, and the Shang­hai gov­ern­ment also pub­lished a se­ries of reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing the con­struc­tion of es­ports are­nas and es­ports op­er­a­tions.

“Shang­hai has al­ready built a very good business en­vi­ron­ment for the es­ports in­dus­try. The reg­u­la­tions have en­forced in­dus­trial con­fi­dence, some­thing that is prob­a­bly even more valu­able than gold,” Ying Shul­ing, CEO of Ver­sus Pro­gram­ming Net­work, was quoted as say­ing in a re­port by yi­cai.com.

Shang­hai’s ad­van­tage comes from its early en­trance into the game, and from the big num­ber of play­ers in the city, Ying said. Other sup­port­ing in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and uni­ver­si­ties, have also at­tracted many play­ers to Shang­hai to pur­sue their dreams in es­ports.

But Shang­hai is not the only city eye­ing the prize; Bei­jing is also am­bi­tious to be­come the rule provider for the emerg­ing in­dus­try. On July 11, Bei­jing es­tab­lished an es­ports com­mit­tee un­der the In­ter­net So­ci­ety of China to over­see the de­vel­op­ment of the sec­tor. It also aims to de­sign in­dus­trial reg­u­la­tions and hold re­lated com­pe­ti­tions.

Other prov­inces in China are also ea­ger to be early to en­ter the mar­ket. South­east China’s Sichuan Prov­ince is­sued reg­u­la­tions on the reg­is­tra­tion of es­ports ath­letes shortly after Shang­hai, in Novem­ber 2018, closely fol­lowed by North China’s In­ner Mon­go­lia Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion, which pub­lished its rule for es­ports ath­letes’ reg­is­tra­tion in De­cem­ber 2018.

Apart from the rules on ath­letes’ reg­is­tra­tion, cities and prov­inces are also aim­ing to roll out stan­dards for es­ports prod­ucts’ hard­ware. For ex­am­ple, South China’s Hainan Prov­ince de­cided to co­op­er­ate with Ten­cent Games. They are to es­tab­lish a new ecosys­tem and di­rec­tion for the in­dus­try, as well as build an “es­ports bay” in China.

How­ever, Shang­hai still seems most likely to be­come the es­ports hub. Ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics re­leased by the re­search in­sti­tu­tion CNG, over 40 per­cent of cur­rent es­ports com­pe­ti­tions are held in Shang­hai, in­clud­ing in­dus­try giants such as the Ten­cent League of Le­gands Pro League, the King Pro League and the DOTA2 Asia Cham­pi­onships. Of the top 20 es­ports clubs in China, over half are head­quar­tered in Shang­hai, in­clud­ing Team WE, In­vic­tus Gam­ing and Ed­ward Gam­ing, ac­cord­ing to yi­cai.com.

“Peo­ple in the in­dus­try are more than will­ing to come to Shang­hai be­cause they be­lieve there are op­por­tu­ni­ties here,” Ying said, “and par­tic­i­pat­ing in es­ports is also rec­og­nized here as a le­git business.”

Fierce com­pe­ti­tion

Be­hind the com­pe­ti­tion among cities and prov­inces are the huge mar­ket and the even larger mar­ket po­ten­tial of the es­ports in­dus­try. Since 2015,

Par­tic­i­pants com­pete in es­ports games dur­ing the 17th China Dig­i­tal En­ter­tain­ment Expo in Shang­hai on Mon­day.

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