Esports debuts at Hangzhou Asian Games, backed by thriving billion-dollar industry
Published: Sep 26, 2023 10:30 PM
The Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, the main venue of the Hangzhou Asian Games Photo: VCG

The Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, the main venue of the Hangzhou Asian Games Photo: VCG

Esports, or electronic sports, made an historic debut as medaled events at the Hangzhou Asian Games, and behind the games is a thriving billion-dollar industry.

As a newcomer to the Asian Games, esports competitions have become a blockbuster. Most of the esports match tickets were sold out instantly, and some people even took part in a ticket lottery to win a chance to watch the games live.
Teams from more than 30 countries and regions in Asia are participating in seven major esports competitions, including five videogames and two mobile games.

Of all the esports events at the Asian Games, League of Legends, run by China's tech giant Tencent, has the biggest crowd. The esports game has developed a sports league system globally, and in China, internet giants such as and have formed their own teams.

At the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, esports first stepped onto the stage as demonstration sports. The heat of the games already surpassed most of the traditional sports, and this year in Hangzhou, we could expect the games to have a World Cup level of attention, especially in the League of Legends event, Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based veteran tech analyst, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

A host of international brands including Mercedes-Benz, Coca-Cola and Puma have realized the commercial value of esports, and they have increased investment in this field and sponsored esports tournaments, including LPL.

China's esports industry is leading the world. In the gaming sector, games such as League of Legends, Genshin Impact and Honor of Kings are growing in both the domestic and overseas markets, bringing billions of profits to fuel the industry, said Liu.

Personal computer manufacturer Lenovo has provided the Asian Games with computers and developed a Lenovo esports operation and maintenance platform to support the event.
As a fledgling sport, esports has surpassed many of its predecessors commercially. In 2022, China's esports industry generated revenues of 144.5 billion yuan ($19.8 billion).

In the first half of 2023, the figure reached 76 billion yuan, with 487 million players and viewers, according to a report by the China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association.