The Explosive Growth Of Esports In China6 min read

The Explosive Growth Of Esports In China<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">6</span> min read</span>
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China’s eSports industry has seen meteoric growth over the past decade. As the world’s largest gaming market, China boasts 489 million eSports viewers and participants. The industry raked in an astonishing $10 billion in revenue just in the first half of 2024.

With the government’s full support behind eSports, major investments from gaming giants like Tencent, and events like the Asian Games bringing global attention, China’s eSports domination shows no signs of slowing down.

Key Facts and Figures

●   489 million people in China watch or participate in eSports as of 2024

●   Total eSports revenue hit $10 billion in H1 2024

●   84% of eSports revenue comes from in-game sales of virtual goods

●   There are over 500,000 people employed in the eSports industry

●   Shanghai hosts over 40% of global eSports events each year

●   38% of gaming population in Asia are women, totaling 494 million female gamers

●   Honor of Kings tops gaming charts with 154 million monthly active players in 2022

●   Top male player Wang "Ame" Chunyu has earned $3.91 million in prize money

●   Top female player Li "Liooon" Xiaomeng
total career earnings sit at $241,500

The Driving Forces Behind China’s eSports Boom

Several key factors have aligned to catapult eSports into the stratosphere in China over the past few years:

●   Mobile gaming apps – Games like Honor of Kings have hundreds of millions of registered users across China. The mobile platform allows eSports to penetrate deeper nationwide.

●   Government support – eSports is officially recognized and promoted by sporting bodies and government policy like the 14th Five-Year Plan.

The Explosive Growth Of Esports In China

●   Major investments – Chinese tech giants like Tencent and NetEase are pouring billions into eSports events, teams, streaming platforms, and more.

●   Infrastructure – Massive venues like the $900 million Shanghai International New Cultural and Creative Esports Center are being built to host major tournaments.

And this is just the beginning. Read on for an in-depth look at the numbers that prove China’s runaway eSports leadership.

By the Numbers: China’s eSports Industry Analyzed

1. $10 billion in revenue for H1 2024

With Shanghai as host of the 2024 Asian Games and other big events, total eSports earnings are forecasted to climb rapidly through the end of the year. Riot Games has already announced Shanghai will also host Valorant Masters 2024.

2. 489 million eSports viewers and participants

Roughly one in three people in China watch or play eSports in some capacity. And with over 50 universities now offering eSports management degrees, interest in the industry will likely continue rising.

3. 500,000+ employed in eSports

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security reports approximately half a million people currently working in eSports – and that number will need to grow with over 60 domestic events held every year.

4. Minors limited to 3 hours gaming per week

In 2021, China enacted rules limiting online gaming for minors to just 1.5 hours per day on weekends. One year later, authorities reported the policy successfully reduced average weekly gameplay time below 3 hours.

5. 40%+ of global events hosted in Shanghai

As the epicenter of Chinese eSports, Shanghai hosts around 80% of gaming companies and brands each year. The city is second only to Los Angeles globally in number of annual events.

The Explosive Growth Of Esports In China

6. 494 million female gamers in Asia

While still male-dominated, women make up a full 38% of gamers across Asia. China, Japan, and South Korea boast the largest populations of female eSports participants and streamers.

Most Popular eSports Games in China

As a top pillar of China’s technology entertainment industry, it’s no surprise that some of the world’s hottest games originate here. Read on for a rundown of the biggest titles that dominate the national gaming charts.

7. Honor of Kings reigns supreme with 154 million MAUs

Developer Tencent has found unconditional success with Honor of Kings. The mobile MOBA smashed records with over $934 million in player spending in just the first 8 months of 2024 globally.

8. 18 of 20 top earners are DOTA 2 players

The highest earning eSports athletes in China mostly hail from DOTA 2, with their $22+ million in combined prize money almost lapping the field. The other two top 20 spots belong to Arena of Valor players.

9. 110 pro teams play DOTA 2

As the 800-pound gorilla of Chinese eSports, DOTA 2 boasts 110 professional clubs based in the country. For perspective, the next most popular game League of Legends has just 37 pro teams.

Chinese Players and Teams Setting Records

With well over half a billion viewers and participants, it follows logically that China is home to many of eSports’ highest earning athletes and teams across multiple game titles.

10. 1,155 active professional players

China has developed a massive talent pool, with over a thousand active pro players as of August 2024. And with the busy tournament schedule this fall, 2022’s total of 1,709 eSports athletes could be surpassed.

11. Wang "Ame" Chunyu – $3.91 million

Playing for elite club PSG-LGD, DOTA 2 superstar Wang holds his place as the country’s top earning male professional. His career $3.91 million in prizes includes a cool $1 million from 2021’s International tournament.

The Explosive Growth Of Esports In China

12. Li "Liooon" Xiaomeng – $241,500

The retired Hearthstone icon made history as the first woman to win the Hearthstone Grandmaster Global Finals in 2019, pocketing $200k in the process. Her ground-breaking victory helped pave the way for female players.

13. PSG-LGD – $24.7 million

This DOTA 2 powerhouse ranks as China’s most dominant eSports club with over $24 million in prize money. The team won a whopping $15.7 million in tournaments last year alone.

14. Top Chinese CS:GO players earning $100k+

While CS:GO lags behind DOTA 2 and others in China, top players like Xu “somebody” Haowen still pull in major earnings from elite events. Xu leads with $282,600 won so far in his career.

15. Zhu "Paraboy"- $1.3 million

Hailed by many as the best PUBG Mobile player ever, Paraboy’s Nova Esports squad won over $300k in the 2021 Global Championship Finals. His world-class aim and tactics have earned him well over $1 million.

Brief History of China’s Rise to #1

China’s astounding eSports growth did not happen overnight. Not so long ago, video gaming faced widespread opposition in the country. But with strong government support leading the way, China now clearly dominates the global stage.

16. Gaming considered taboo until the 2000s

Parents and officials alike worried games were as dangerous as drugs, severely suppressing industry development throughout the 90s. But softened attitudes and critical policy shifts in the 2000s marked a turning point.

17. The 2010s – a decade of explosive growth

After officially recognizing eSports as a real sport in 2003, China began investing heavily in events and infrastructure. Game approvals resumed, mega-publishers like Tencent stepped in, and the market took off over the next decade.

The Explosive Growth Of Esports In China

18. National eSports team established in 2013

Seeing the vast economic potential ahead, Chinese authorities continued placing greater emphasis on eSports throughout the early 2010s. This included founding a dedicated national team in 2013.

19. Surpassing the US in 2016

In 2016, China marked a major milestone by overtaking the United States as the #1 eSports market globally. Buoyed by millions of fans and billion-dollar companies, the country has strengthened its lead ever since.

The Road Ahead

As interest and investment in eSports continues surging throughout China, the future looks brighter than ever. More major sponsors are still entering the market, exclusive streaming rights deals are being signed, and global brands like the NBA are partnering with top Chinese gaming clubs.

With the government wholly committed to further growth, expect China to extend its reign as the epicenter of the eSports universe for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is eSports really that big in China? Yes, enormously so. China’s eSports market significantly outpaces the rest of the globe, already topping $10 billion in revenue in mid-2024.

Who is China’s top eSports player? That distinction belongs to Wang "Ame" Chunyu, DOTA 2 expert and member of elite club PSG-LGD. He holds the record for China’s highest career earnings with his $3.91 million in prizes.