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Commercialization gives esports better image

By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-06 07:33
China's Invictus Gaming players celebrate after winning the 2018 LOL World Championship final match against European team Fnatic at Munhak stadium in Incheon, South Korea, November 3, 2018. [Photo/IC]

ON SATURDAY, a team from China won the annual League of Legends championship held in Busan, the Republic of Korea. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

The Chinese team iG won this year's LOL championship. However, in terms of esports, China lags quite far behind the ROK. Even this time, three of the six members of the Chinese team came from the ROK, which is rather surprising because China has the largest number of esports players, the largest audience, and is the largest esports market in the world.

The root problem lies in a long-existing prejudice against esports in China. Regarded as a respectable sport in the United States, Japan, Europe and ROK, esports participants have long been considered "game players" in China.

There are always some people who demonize esports as leading kids astray and treat esports players as internet addicts. There have even been calls for esports players to be treated as patients who need to be "helped" to get back to a "normal" life.

A chief reason esports players suffer such prejudice is their low income. Before the age of the mobile internet, esports were far from being commercialized. Even Li Xiaofeng, who won World Cyber Game championships on Warcraft III in 2005 and 2006, only received $25,000.

Yet, with livestreaming, there are increasingly larger audiences for esports. A global audience of at least 200 million watched this year's LOL championship. Larger audiences mean more commercial opportunities, more investment, as well as more income for the players. Wang Sicong, boss of iG, promised to reward each of his players with 1 million yuan ($145,119) for winning the championship.

Commercial success will help esports lose their stigma.

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