Allen gets bitten by gaming's intensity

Updated 2018-05-10 11:10:03 China Daily

Ray Allen showed he's still got game at the University Cyber League finals in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, last Sunday.

The two-time NBA champion and 10-time All Star shot on-screen hoops against the winner of the Super NBA category at the inaugural e-sports tournament, where students from 16 universities battled for supremacy.

"I enjoyed it and it's really easy to play," said Allen, whose opponent also won a ticket to the NBA Finals.

Allen compared the intensity of e-sports to that of MMA, with the former Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics star, 42, just the latest high-profile athlete to endorse gaming.

Many prominent Chinese athletes are avid gamers, with Olympic speed-skating gold medalist Wang Meng a big League of Legends aficionado and sprinter Su Bingtian a King of Glory devotee.

The crossover is gaining e-sports more mainstream acceptance, as Sunday's event illustrated.

Organized by Tencent Sports and the Federation of University Sports of China (FUSC), the 2018 University Cyber League featured champions of the north, south, east and west divisions, competing in five game categories: Super NBA, FIFA Online 3, Cross-Fire, League of Legends and King of Glory (won by Central South, Tongji, Beihang, Zhejiang and Wuhan universities respectively).

As the only e-sports tournament approved by the FUSC, the UCL attracted teams from 32 colleges battling for their share of a total prize fund of 1.35 million yuan (2,100).

"The UCL has provided e-sports-loving students with a platform to display their talent and creativity," said Wang Gang, FUSC vice-president.

"We also hope that the positive attributes needed to succeed at e-sports, such as teamwork, can have a good influence on students' daily study and lives."

This year's UCL boasted an online viewership of over 60 million, with 10 million watching the national finals alone.

But the league has much bigger ambitions.

"For Tencent Sports, the inaugural UCL is still at the trial stage," said Tim Shi, director of Tencent Sports Event DevOps.

"This year, the scale of the UCL, meaning the cities and universities that were involved, was still at a primary stage. We want to expand to more cities and universities in the future."

Whether or not the UCL will become a pathway to professional gaming careers for some students remains to be seen. However, King of Glory star Xiao Minhui warned the wannabes that the pro scene is not for the faint-hearted.

"With the development of e-sports in our country, being a professional e-sports athlete is also a life choice," said Xiao, aka Meng Lei.

"But, no matter what you choose, it is very important that you have to work hard and fight hard. There's no turning back. If you merely want to have fun, I think you should not choose to be a pro gamer."

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