Need for esport commentators growing: insiders
Published: Sep 18, 2020 12:52 AM

Wang Beichen (left) gives a commentary of a esports match. Photo: courtesy of Onmyoji arena Pro League

Esport commentators are becoming sought-after in China with the mushrooming of the domestic gaming industry. People engaged in this job are usually better paid than their peers in many other fields, with the top ones able to earn as much as 10 million yuan ($1.48 million) per year, industry insiders told the Global Times.

There is a shortage of esport commentators in China, said Zhu Junhe, director of the esports commentary major at Shanghai University of Sport (SUS), one of China's first universities to start offering this major in 2018 after the national education authority announced a major in esports gaming and management for vocational study in universities in 2017.

At present, only around 1,200 commentators have been officially recognized by game companies or broadcasting platforms, Zhu said. "By contrast, there are several thousand professional clubs or teams with over 100,000 players active in various matches or events," he told the Global Times Wednesday.

The high talent gap contributes to the popularity of newbie esport commentators in the market. Wang Beichen, a junior SUS student majoring in esports commentary, said he has been invited by some large mobile game companies to commentate on their matches since his sophomore year. "Each match or event lasting 4-5 hours enables me to earn 2,000-3,000 yuan," he said.

Unlike the graduates who are worried about getting an ideal job in this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic year, when many enterprises have stopped recruiting or are laying off employees to cut costs, Wang said he and his classmates are confident in their future careers.

"The epidemic has caused obstacles for many traditional sports events, but it has had no big impact on the esports industry," Wang said, recalling that Chinese domestic esport games and events were held online amid COVID-19. "I commentated on some of the events at home," he told the Global Times Wednesday.

The monthly income of most graduates working as esport commentators surpasses 10,000 yuan, said industry observers. This is much higher than the average 5,290 yuan that graduates nationwide get from their first jobs this year, according to a report released by job-hunting platform Zhilian Zhaopin on Monday.

More experienced commentators can earn up to 100,000 yuan per month, Wang added.

However, it is not easy for young people to get this kind of job. Universities with an esports commentary major usually have high requirements for candidates, Zhu said, noting that SUS only enrolls the top 10 percent of the candidates.

"Each year we only enroll 13-15 students in this major to ensure education quality," Zhu told the Global Times.

An esports commentator must have abundant reserves of knowledge about both general esports and several specific games, as well as good English skills, Wang said. "It takes serious effort to become a qualified commentator," he said.