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Vocational colleges get new major: e-sports

By Liu Jing | China Daily | Updated: 2016-09-09 07:50

In good news for China's video game addicts and aficionados, hours spent playing video games could pay off after all.

The major Electronic Competitive Sports and Management is listed among 13 new majors at vocational schools in China, according to the Ministry of Education. The major falls under the discipline of sports and education.

The e-sports major will be launched in vocational colleges nationwide starting in 2017. Other new majors include Early Childhood Development and Healthcare, Public Welfare and Charity Management and Music Communication.

"The moment I have dreamed about endlessly has finally come," said Li Xiaofeng, better known as "Sky", who became famous for playing Blizzard Entertainment's real-time strategy game Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Li was dubbed "King of Humans" when he placed first at the World Cyber Games in both 2005 and 2006. He remained a top player of Warcraft and made around HK$1 million ($130,000) a year before retiring last year.

His comments echoed many netizens' feelings that, finally, playing video games is no longer considered a waste of time.

In 2003, e-sports was officially recognized by China's General Administration of Sport as a legitimate event.

The industry has grown dramatically in recent years, with various league matches and plentiful prizes offered on campuses. It became a hot topic after Chinese teams excelled in top e-sports events worldwide.

On Aug 14, a Chinese team secured the biggest prize in e-sports history after finishing first in an elite tournament in the United States. The five members of Wings Gaming shared $9.1 million after beating North American rival DC 3-1 in the final of the 2016 International DOTA 2 Championships in Seattle.

A vocational school in Xilingol, in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, became China's first school to offer e-sports courses in August.

Li Ailong, who is responsible for the program and also serves as the president of the Inner Mongolia E-sports Association, told Beijing News that the industry is experiencing a serious talent deficit.

"It takes two to three months to train a new employee. The human cost is huge," Li said. He added that although the industry has great potential, most of the practitioners do not have professional training.

Yang Shaohua, marketing chief for online streaming platform Panda TV, said the industry is not as big as many people think.

"E-sports is different from traditional sport, which has many categories, such as soccer and basketball," Yang said, adding that widely influential games are still rare. "Therefore, e-sports majors will start on a trial basis. Feedback from society remains to be seen."

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