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Global Times: Esports sector enters era of globalization as China welcomes international players

BEIJING, Nov. 30, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Five major international esports events are set to take place in Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province in December as China’s esports sector opens a new chapter of globalization ushered in by the Hangzhou Asian Games.

As one of the five elite competitions, the Honor of Kings World Champion Cup will see 27 teams from 19 countries and regions around the world fight for supremacy on December 30 in the birthplace of the legendary game, according to information issued at a press conference held in Chengdu on Tuesday.

Athletes from South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Russia, and China, among other international athletes have been vying for titles at the ongoing 2023 TGA Tencent Esports Games Winter Finals in Beijing.

Gu Sijia, director of the Tencent interactive entertainment esports department, told the Global Times on Wednesday that this year’s event has become more globalized. “In the previous years, there was only one international event, but this year the number has increased to eight during the 11-day finals,” said Gu.

Chinese players have made their mark so far in the finals as one Chinese team was crowned in the Call of Duty Mobile Game Autumn Invitational, which is one of the eight events of the finals that will conclude on December 3.

In pole position

After three days of fierce showdowns between six top teams from around the world, two Polish teams completed a 1-2 finish in the just concluded World of Tanks Championship International Finals 2023 held in Shanghai. Chinese team “FALCON” claimed third place in the most prestigious event of World of Tanks, held in person in China for the first time.

Chris Chun, World of Tanks Franchise Director at Wargaming, said that China is the world’s largest “World of Tanks” market.

“The games’ stakeholders need to listen to the voices of Chinese players and continue to give back to Chinese fans for their love,” Chun said.

China has the world’s top technical support infrastructure for streaming and online viewing. It is at the forefront of the world in terms of the esports atmosphere, software, and hardware, and is in pole position to host large-scale events, Chun said.

According to a report released in July at the 2023 Global Esports Conference in Shanghai, China’s domestic esports industry generated revenues of 75.99 billion yuan ($10.75 billion) in the first six months of 2023.

China remains the world’s No.1 esports market. The esports population in China is expected to reach 517 million in 2024, making up about half of China’s internet population, according to statistics from the iResearch Consulting Group.

Propelled by Asian Games

Yi Di, vice president of Perfect World, one of the stakeholders in China’s esports industry, attributed the accelerated development of ­esports to its debut at the Hangzhou Asian Games, which was held in East’s China’s Zhejiang Province.

China clinched four golds and one bronze out of seven golds on offer at the Hangzhou Games as seven events, including Honor of Kings and League of Legends, made their debut at the Asian multi-sport showcase.

The Asian Games allowed more people outside the industry to gain a better understanding of the games and the rules, Yi said at an esports forum held in Beijing in October.

Thanks to the Asian Games, esports has transformed from mere entertainment into a global competitive sport. The Games has added a new dimension and perspective to the globalization of esports. The event has been infused with a greater sense of national honor, triggering discussions and competitions between countries, making the event more valuable and appealing, Yi noted.

Gu said that the Asian Games helped enhance communication between Asian countries and built a bridge for future exchanges in international events.

Mao Yanhui, a director of esports at the Moonton Games, an international mobile gaming company, said China has grown to be a front-runner in global esports and the exchanges between China and its overseas counterparts have increased over the last year.

A window for culture

With the accelerating pace of the globalization of China’s esports, the industry has also become a window for foreign counterparts to learn about Chinese culture.

Elements of traditional Chinese culture were revitalized when used in the storylines and characters found in domestic esports games through artistic design. When the games were exported overseas, they became a new media portal for foreign users to understand China, Mao told reporters.

It’s interesting to find that many overseas players follow Chinese players on social media and have become interested in Chinese culture. Esports has unexpectedly become a new avenue of cultural exchanges, and overseas players are also looking forward to Chinese players joining the competition to enrich the game, Mao said.

As the International Olympic Committee looks to create an Olympic esports games, Mao believes that a mentality of openness will help China stay competitive on the international stage.

It’s important for Chinese esports stakeholders to build up an open industry with benign competition. In addition to developing Chinese intellectual property, an international vision is crucial for China to expand its influence in the global arena, Mao noted.