Life ain’t easy at the forefront of China’s burgeoning e-sports industry

8 min read

“Let’s defend first, let’s defend first—there’s no rush,” said a reserve team player with the gamer ID “seven.”

“Go to the bottom lane and counterattack. I can do it this time,” said a starter nicknamed “Yitong” as he wiped his hand with a tissue to make sure he could keep a grip on his phone.

Dressed in T-shirts, shorts, and slippers, this group of teens and young twentysomethings, all members of Vici Gaming, a Shanghai-based e-sports club, are some of the best “Honour of Kings” players in the country.

Because it was the off-season for the King Pro League (KPL), the professional league of “Honour of Kings” founded by Tencent, the players only need to train three hours a day. Once competition season starts, however, training could last from two in the afternoon to as late as one in the morning.

These players are among the first e-sports professionals to ride the wave of public, corporate, and government support for the industry, which has been growing noticeably in the past few years. The players’ prospects are rosy, but not without their own uncertainties.
Life as professionals

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