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Tencent leading China's charge

CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2017-10-05 07:27

Tencent leading China's charge

A gamer takes part in the League of Legends competition. Provided to China Daily

China is at the forefront of the global e-sports revolution, with Tencent leading the boom's corporate pack. The Chinese technology giant has become one of the most influential and profitable e-sports companies in the world since making its first explorative steps into the business in 2006.

Tencent believes China is capable of becoming the world center of e-sports. According to Tencent, the live broadcasts of LPL (League of Legends Pro League) were viewed five billion times by 43 million spectators. In 2017, the live broadcasts of KPL (King of Glory Pro League) were viewed 2.68 billion times in the spring season.

"Tencent e-sports contains about six brand games, such as MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena games), FPS (first-person shooter), and the other seven core occupation games such as LPL, KPL and CFPL. These form a sound basis for the e-sports tournament, with over 170 million users in total among them," said Mars Hou, general manager of the self-developed marketing department and integrated marketing department of IEG.

"Take LPL (the top-flight professional league for League of Legends) in China, for example. Its 2016 viewership was more than five billion, the total timescale reached 840 million hours, and the independent viewers of the finals numbered over 43 million."

Gaming competitions have existed for amateurs since the '70s. Arguably the first e-sports event took place in Stanford University in 1972, when students battled each other in the game Spacewar for a grand prize of a year's subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.

However, it's a radically different scenario now, with the global market for e-sports totalling an estimated $750 million in 2015, nearly half of that from Asia, led by China and South Korea. Some analysts are boldly predicting e-sports will generate nearly $2 billion by 2018.

According to John Lasker, vice-president of digital media programming at ESPN, offering e-sports content across ESPN platforms shines a light on a formerly niche culture, but one that has been growing exponentially in recent years.

It also brings a new-found appreciation for the gamers and their skills, he added, including the physical and mental training they go through, and the dedication necessary to reach the professional level.

"I believe we can see that in recent years the global e-sports industry is developing very fast," said Sage Huang, general manager of the League of Legends product department. "No sport has ever been able to achieve such growth, thanks to the internet and the rapid development of science and technology."

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