Going from a geeky pastime for teenagers, playing video games is now becoming a lucrative venture in China. At the International 2016 DOTA 2 tournament being held in Seattle, five of the 16 teams that qualified to play are from China. The annual e-sports tournament for the popular Defense Of The Ancients (DOTA) 2 game is expected to award as much as $20 million in prizes, with the team getting first place bringing home US$8.95 million, making it one of the biggest e-sports tournament to date.
According to Zhang Yunfan, president of Beijing-based Perfect World Games, the successful entry of the five teams in the tournament is proof of the rising status of Chinese players in the international e-sports scene. Perfect World Games operates the DOTA 2 servers in China and is one of the sponsors for the teams participating in the T16.
Zhang also attributes the positive development to the growing popularity of e-sports in the country. From 2011 to 2014, Chinese professional gamers have already won as much as $12.01 million in prizes from both domestic and international tournaments. The United States still leads in terms of e-sports winnings $463 million. China’s growing presence in the field of electronic sports is also expected to get a boost from new government policies to further develop the online gaming infrastructure. Several major companies, including Alibaba and Tencent, have also invested heavily in the development and promotion of the field. The Chinese gaming industry is one of the major groups pushing for the inclusion of eSports in the Olympics.
Representatives from the industry and the Chinese professional gaming community, along with other members of the International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) have already submitted an application to be recognized by the International Olympic Committee earlier this year, according to IeSF secretary-general Alex Lim. While it is expected that the application won’t be approved anytime soon, e-sports players are still optimistic they will be able to gain proper recognition in the future.