China’s esports powerhouse status undermined by tough new gaming rules for under 18s – Reuters

China’s esports powerhouse status undermined by tough new gaming rules for under 18s – Reuters

SHANGHAI, Sept 7 (Reuters) – In glass-paneled conference rooms, members of the Shanghai-based esports team Rogue Warriors tap away at their phones as they train from 11 a.m. till late, occasionally breaking for food.

“I spend 15 of 24 hours a day playing video games,” says 19-year-old Zhang Kaifeng who plays Tencent Holdings Ltd’s (0700.HK) online battle arena game “Arena of Valor” professionally, adding that the long hours are necessary to remain competitive.

China is the world’s biggest esports market with an estimated 5,000-plus teams, but the government’s tough new rules aimed at curbing gaming addiction are set to make careers like Zhang’s hard to emulate.

Provoking an outcry from many Chinese teens, the changes task gaming companies with limiting online games for under 18s to just three hours a week. Even before the changes, minors were restricted to 1.5 hours on weekdays and three hours on weekends.

Top esports players are typically discovered in their teens and retire in their mid-20s, and experts compare the intensity of their training to that of Olympic gymnasts and divers. One of the world’s most well-known players of Riot Games’ “League of Legends”, Wu
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