Article by Matthew Green
Growing up, people always said snooker players and golfers weren’t real sportsmen – well, now there’s another ‘athlete’ to add to this add to this list. Farmville players rejoice, as you are now an athlete! Well, not exactly. Competitive gaming, although broad, hasn’t quite reached Farmville… yet. The rise of e-sports has shocked mos,t as the starting lap was a bit rough for this new genre, which began as early as 1972. Nearly 50 years later, it’s starting to be recognized as a real sport, or competition at least.
Along with an increase in participation there is the side of the spectator. Video game spectatorship was a foreign concept as a kid, but now just sitting there watching someone else play is now the norm. Popular youtubers, such as PewDiePie, started playing games online and his net worth is $40 million. I know that “South Park already done this’ but I’m not here for the social commentary. This article is here to address the ways we can get involved in Xi’an, either as a spectator, or a competitor. Let’s get to the nitty gritty.
The growth of online competitions in China alone is staggering. In Xi’an, a company which specializes in such has just set up camp. VSPN is based at Bei Chi Tou Station on the south west corner of the junction and here they hold both online and in-person events in popular games such as FIFA Online 3, PUBG, and the popular Chinese mobile game Honor of Kings. Tickets are available online and all competitions are streamed live. Entering competitions or team trials are limited at the time of writing due to the world’s issues though, and it goes without saying that there is no confirmed date for open-door competitions as of yet.
On the subject of entering, getting involved as a competitor is somewhat of a daunting task and requires that you get a certain rank in your chosen game- likely on Chinese servers. In general, it’s the same process worldwide and depends on the competition. To guide us through the process, I consulted an ex-pro from the UK who lives here in Xi’an.
‘Kxos’ began gaming in high school where he mainly played Halo. Originally, it was just LAN parties, but with the advent of online gaming, the ladder became more accessible and people would start setting teams, which was the most appealing part. At the start of the e-sports, as we know it in modern day, it was very inaccessible due to lack of sponsorships and decent prize money. However, it meant players were in it for the love of the game. With the lack of opportunities to prove yourself it was a challenge and if you made a small mistake it had a huge impact on getting signed to the teams.
“Nowadays, becoming a pro is much easier” Kxos continues to explain. This is mainly due to the large variance of games which people both play and watch- thus creating the demand. Everyday there is a game which has a cash prize which means that it’s viable to pursue the sport as a career and the dedication needed isn’t wasted. Along with the financial benefits the exposure can lead to greater sponsorship deals most casual gamers are aware of, ‘Flash’ and ‘S1mple’, but few would know the names he’d compete against.
With any great achievement, there must be sacrifices. Kxos continues on with, “To be a pro it takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice, focus and time. It can be strenuous on your relationships with your friends because if you’re not practicing and the competition is- then you’re falling behind. If you’re not naturally talented like the current rising star ’Zywoo’, who can carry his team to championships in his rookie year, it takes time and effort. You’re going to have to put a lot of your free time studying the game and building relationships with the other great players to break out into the top tier.”
So, even if you’re just picking up a game for the first time or a seasoned expert maybe all those hours you’ll clock in won’t be wasted after all.