China E-Sports: E-sports market moves traditional economy
en.hangzhou.com.cn   2024-05-29 14:37   Source: CGTN

E-sports is not only one of the most eye-catching sporting events but also a promising business that has been growing rapidly. Many cities in China are scrambling to build E-sports highlands to attract consumers. Our reporter GUO TIANQI is at southwest China's Chengdu to see how e-sports has increased consumption across the city.

Video games have become a lifestyle, especially for Generation Z. In China, there are 500 million e-sports fans, and in 2023, China's e-sports market revenue exceeded 130 billion yuan, or 18 billion U.S. dollars – increasing more than 12 percent year-on-year.

Chengdu, famous for its entertainment sector, is very welcoming towards e-sports because of its ability to attract tourists. Take the mid-season League of Legends held in May 2024. Official data says that about 80 percent of the audience travelled from other places to Chengdu.

"We are from Jiangsu."

"I'm from Hong Kong."

"I'm from Xiamen, Fujian."

GUO TIANQI Chengdu, Sichuan Province "We are here at the Mid-season invitational of the famous game League of Legends, also one of the biggest events for all the fans and players of the game, the event has continued for 17 days, in total about 80,000 tickets were sold out within minutes, we can say that every night the event was on fire."

Outside the arena, there are another over one billion online viewers. Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, or MOBA, is currently the most popular type of video game in the market. Five players from a team – every player has different job and strength – have to work as one and use diverse strategies to destroy the other team's crystal. Because of the clear and fair rules, League of Legends has also become an official contest at the 19th Hangzhou Asian Games. These two players are the participants.

LEE SANG HYEOK Player, League of Legends "I hope that through e-sports, people can come together. And, I think the most important thing is to show them how we overcome difficulties and adversities."

ZHAO JIAHAO Player, League of Legends "All the five of us are striving to win. Everyone can sacrifice for the team and also take the responsibility as a leader. We are full of confidence and have the courage to challenge everything."

"That's the charm of competitive sports – you don't know until the last minute. E-sports is always intense and breathtaking."

In China, e-sports has been developed for about two decades. As international competitions continue to be standardized, the demands on professional players are also increasing, requiring excellent reaction speed, dynamic vision, and the ability to maintain high concentration for a long time.

We visited the 25-year-old world champion club in Chengdu to see how much endeavor it takes to become a professional.

YANG JIAWEI Player, Chengdu All Gamers "We practised by ourselves in the afternoon. From the evening till midnight, we compete with other teams. We need to train for more than 10 hours every day."

Like traditional sports, the training is almost year-round, but the second-mover advantage is helping e-sports commercialize.

WU KE Chief Public Affairs Officer of AG Group "Our income includes prize money for participating in tournaments, sponsorship revenue, business IP and cooperation, player's live streaming income, souvenir for fans, and so on."

Game developers are also indispensable. The world's largest game company Tencent, also has a branch in Chengdu.

GUO TIANQI Chengdu, Sichuan Province "TIMI Studio is one of Tencent's major gaming development centers, and thanks to its best known mobile game Honor of Kings, TIMI is right now the largest gaming platform in the world by revenue."

With billions of users, the team is striving to export Chinese culture through game characters. But more importantly, video games sometimes give us a quick glimpse of the future world.

FENG QIAN Deputy Director of Timi e-sports Center, Associate Producer of HOK e-sports "In the future, we are planning to provide more immersive and extreme experiences to players – with virtual reality and augmented reality techniques. 5G technology will also improve the immediacy and continuity of e-sports competitions for all players. We're also using AI for tactical analysis to make the game more enjoyable."

The consumption-driven quality of e-sports also attracts traditional industries. Chengdu's famous tourist attraction, Kuanzhai Alley, together with League of Legends, also launched an e-sports courtyard to attract young tourists. Co-branding with famous e-sports clubs is always a good way to attract consumers.

HUANG YUTIAN Manager, Principal Feng Hot Pot "We've doubled our turnover rate since we promoted a joint-name meal with BLG e-sports club. Every night there's a lot of fans. We also made souvenirs for them."

"We came from Xi 'an. We are going to watch BLG's competition, and planning to do some sightseeing in Chengdu."

Officials estimate that the MSI competition can bring consumption worth at least 20 million U.S. dollars to the city.

E-sports is a young industry. It still has a long way to go to, and that includes balancing commercial expansion with game addiction prevention. But with more than three billion players and more than 180 billion U.S. dollars' worth market size worldwide, e-sports has already gained itself a space to thrive and grow. GUO TIANQI, CGTN, Chengdu, Sichuan Province.

Author:   Editor: Ye Lijiao