In the basement of a big townhouse on the outskirts of Beijing, young Chinese males are gathered in front of screens playing laptop video games 14 hours a day.
However, they’re not friends with too much time on their hands or merely eager gamers — they’re a brand new brand of professional athletes, and they’re training for serious money.
E-sports is a massive business in China. In accordance with state media, the nation’s rapidly rising e-sports sector is now worth over 100 billion yuan ($14 billion).
Gaming groups full of devoted younger people are training intensely throughout the nation for international competitions, where millions of dollars in the prize is given.
In some ways, it’s just like any other sporting competition. Except as an alternative of kicking balls or waving bats, these athletes are throwing virtual fireballs and killing pixelated terrorists.
Last year, China’s Invictus Gaming group won the world championship for the game “League of Legends” for the first time, ousting European and US competitors to take home a large chunk of the $5 million prize pool.
E-sports group RNG’s Beijing supervisor Bi Lianli said she believes China is going to become a world leader in e-gaming.
Competitions started as niche events for avid gamers to test their expertise against one another.
However, partially floated by the growing popularity of watching avid gamers playing live on YouTube and livestreaming platform Twitch, e-sports have quickly become more popular.