The last few years have seen an explosion in the ‘esports’ industry. For those who don’t know, esports refers to the ‘sport’ of competitive gaming and China has become one of the world leaders in this field. This year, the Chinese government, for the first time ever, has recognised ‘esports professional’ as a legit career.
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Leading the charge to bring esports into mainstream viewing are games such as Dota 2, PUBG and League of Legends. At the beginning of 2019, PUBG Corp announced it’s China esports plan to operate three pro leagues in the mainland.
Back in January, Starladder also hosted a Dota 2 major tournament in the Chinese city of ChongQing which brought in massive viewership for the game on twitch.tv.
With tournaments plenty and ever-increasing viewership, the world of esports can only keep getting bigger. In a report published by eMarketer, research was cited that predicted global esports earnings to increase by 18% annually, reaching $1.6bn by 2022.
Currently, the highest earning esports country is the United States. However, due to rising popularity, China is now set to overtake them within the next few years.
It does seem strange though that a country such as China, with a culture that revolves around achievement and academic excellence, would accept esports into its culture. So, what’s changed? Why is ‘professional gamer’ now considered an acceptable career path for young people in China?
Over the last few years, China has recognised its competitiveness and prowess within the global sphere of eSports. This has led to government pledges to support the industry moving forward. Not only that but major Chinese companies such as JD have also entered the industry, giving further awareness and exposure to esports.
This, in turn, has led parental perceptions of gaming undergoing a massive shift and esports thus gaining more and more acceptance in China as a legit career.
While there are many games which can confidently call themselves an ‘esports’, the most popular of these in China are the following:
Dota 2 is by far the most popular esport in China, with a total of 89 teams having earned a total of over $56m.
Overwatch is next with over 200 professionals having earned over $1m in total.
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Other popular esports titles include counter-strike, Starcraft 2, league of legends and hearthstone.