Speaking of electronic games players, what image do you have in mind? Middle school dropouts? Addicted to the internet? Naughty and rebellious? Whether we admit it or not, these are the common labels for this group people. However, with the rise of professional game players (aged at 10 to 25) in recent years, playing games has already become kind of a career for some people. According to public data, the number of Chinese game players has already reached 408 million. With the spread of mobile internet, mobile electronic sports also boomed, attracting even more young people.
Among the large sea of game players, only few of them could rise to fame and become a star game player after all. The majority of game players, however, are still struggling between their dreams and the harsh reality. In TMTpost Photo Gallery 033, we focused our attention on the life of a couple of young Chinese electronic sports players. It is our hope that this article can help you have a glimpse of the industry.
Junwushuang, Xiaoyang, Junhua and Nuoshen (from left to right) are all game players invited by an electronic sports club in Shunyi District, Beijing for a new mobile game. In April, 2016, their rankings rose to top ten globally and drew the club’s attention. Finally, they’ve got the opportunity to realize their electronic sports dreams.
Junwushuang (his nickname in the game) was live broadcasting games in the above picture. “I slipped class and played electronic games when I was still in middle school. At that time, I would often stay the night at internet cafe and grab some sleep the next morning. I was so addicted to games that I totally neglected my studies” he told TMTpost. After graduating from senior high school, he started learning how to repair high-end watch from his grandpa, because his family want him to carry on the career. So they are quite supportive of his hobby. “Although the profit margin for repairing watches is very huge, especially for high-end watches, it is quite boring in the long term. To fix a watch, I might have to be very patient and work with an accuracy of deci-millimeter. After learning the skill for two or three years also, I found that I still loved playing electronic sports, since it’s more exciting and fun. So I decided to move to Beijing,” he explained.
“After we hit the top ten nationally, a club approached and recruited us. However, when we started playing games for the club, the game was still quite new. Later on, as more players started to play the game, it became more and more difficult to maintain on the top ten list. It highly depends on my score at official contests. If I can get a good prize in the contest, then people would rush to flatter me; however, if I fail to get a good grade, then for this game, I’ll have no choice but to do live broadcasting.”
Feng Junhua came from Guangzhou. Born in 1995, he went to a vocational school in Guangzhou during college. “After becoming the top player globally for a mobile game this April, I was invited by a club to become a professional player. So I decided to drop out from college and pursue my dream. Right now, I can only earn around RMB 5,000 （around $705）per month, so I can only make ends meet”, he told TMTpost.
As the youngest one in the team, Nuoshen is just over 18 years old. He majors in Physics and is still a college student in Beijing. He loves playing electronic sports. At the club, they are supposed to live broadcast games for at least four hours a day in order to promote a new game. Different from team competitive games, players fight alone in this game, so they don’t need to be trained together. Besides live broadcasting games, they also play games by themselves for around another six hours every day. For the summer, he planned to get trained to see if he should really treat playing games as a career.
Xiaoyang is the only player in the team who’s born in the 19080s. “I am already 26 years old, so I’m already quite old in the circle,” he told TMTpost. He used to work in the foreign trade industry in Ji’nan, but decided to enter the electronic sports industry this year anyway. However, he told TMTpost that a common problem for both game developers, investors and players was the life cycle of mobile games was generally short. “If the popularity for this game gradually fades, we will have to start again in another game,” he explained.
Xiaoyang and Junwushuang ordered takeaway food for lunch. “Other members of our team stayed up last night, so they are still trying to catch some sleep. As professional game players, it’s common for us to have irregular rest. Generally we have two meals every day, both by ordering takeaway food,” he told TMTpost. During the official contest held on July, 23rd, they failed to get a good grade. For that contest, over 500 game players competed for the championship to win RMB 360,000 ($54,044) as reward. According to official statistics, the reward volume for electronic sports around the world totaled $61million in 2015. At the same time, the overall revenue in the Chinese game industry reached over RMB 149 billion (around $21billion) in 2015.
Wu Jian is currently a postgraduate student at Peking University. Born in 1989, he used to be head of the electronic sports club at Peking University. “I fell in love with games when I was very young, but entered the electronic sports world through League of Legends. It took me only two months to become the Most Powerful King when I was still in senior year. That’s the really the peak time for me”, he told TMTpost. For him, electronic sports is very similar to sports, because both of them can help him build up his perseverance and character.
Wu Jian is also a part-time broadcaster for a live broadcasting platform, and has to live broadcast games for a certain period of time every day. He graduated from Peking University this June, and would get enrolled in China Unicom as a management trainee in August. “I will not treat playing games as a career. I am already too old in the circle, so oftentimes I would find it difficult to play as quickly as game players younger than me. A job at China Unicom, however, will help me get a Beijing Hukou and live a decent life. So why should I bother to work in an industry easy to enter but hard to stand out,” he told TMTpost, “Moreover, when you really turn playing games into a career, you might not be able to really enjoy it anymore. Challenge can be really fierce for professional game players. Among all the game players, only several of them can stand out. However, they have to play games for a lot longer time than ordinary players.”
Wu Jian had three years’ experience leading the electronic sports club at Peking University and competing at game contests. Although his team members played games together for no more than 50 times, they still won the championship in Beijing region for three consecutive years and even made it to the national top eight in offline contests. “I can no longer remember how many contest we competed for. The reward for champions varied in these contests: from a couple thousand RMB to over twenty thousand RMB. In comparison, the scholarship was higher than reward, but I only won scholarship once a year,” he told TMTpost.
On July, 11th, Wu Jian was going through the check-out procedure at the live broadcasting platform. In August, he would officially be enrolled in China Unicom. “I was recommended for admission to be a postgraduate at Peking University. For me, studying as a postgraduate is easier than playing games as a career”, he said, jokingly, “Academic atmosphere in Peking University is known to be very free, so I can choose whatever course I like and live at ease. Being a professional game player, however, is quite difficult. After all, it takes long time training to get familiar with the mouse and get a good grade in contest.”
“44” is a female electronic sports player. She used to be head of the electronic sports club at China Agricultural University. After graduation, she worked as a coordinator for electronic sports contests at an electronic sports platform. “Female players take up less than 5% of all the electronic sports players. So I often play with male players and win the game thanks to them,” she said when sorting out all the souvenirs she collected from major electronic sports contests, “I wish to organize not only college-level contests, but also national, even global contests in the future.”
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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Zhu Lingyu, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.