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The Chinese city of Hangzhou has pledged 100 million yuan (£11.5 million) annually in support of video games and esports, according to a report by the South China Morning Post.
The city has developed into a technology and eSports hub in recent years – in 2018 it opened its own “eSports city” – with the goal of launching several eSports projects by the end of 2022.
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As part of the investment, several major academic institutions in Hangzhou will develop academic programs based on video game animation and e-sports. Institutions that will participate in the initiative include Zhejiang University, China Academy of Art and Zhejiang Media Institute.
The news comes at an interesting time for the city as it prepares for the 19th Asian Games, which will take place from September to October 2023. The event was originally scheduled to take place last year but was postponed due to concerns about a COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year.
In addition, the event will also spotlight esports as the discipline makes its debut as an official medal sport in the competition. Athletes have the opportunity to earn a podium by competing in Arena of Valor, PUBG Mobile, Dream Three Kingdoms 2, Street Fighter V, League of Legends, Dota 2, FIFA 23, and Hearthstone. Esports has previously been used as a “demonstration sport”, most notably at the 2018 Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
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The city also has an Overwatch League franchise, Hangzhou Spark, owned by Chinese online entertainment company Bilibili. The team recently competed in the 2022 Overwatch League playoffs and took home $250,000 (£207,000) after finishing fourth.
Despite Hangzhou’s efforts to boost the esports and gaming industry, many companies continue to suffer from Chinese government sanctions as part of its crackdown on rising gambling addiction among young people.
Radina has been a freelance journalist for Esports Insider since 2021. When she’s not playing Apex Legends, she enjoys writing about tech, equality, and education in esports.