China triumphed over Malaysia with a 2-0 scoreline in the grand finals of Arena of Valor at the 19th Asian Games held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. This victory marked a milestone as China secured the first-ever esports gold medal to be officially included in the Asian Games medal tally.
A Rocky Start to a Dominant Finish
During the initial moments of the best-of-three grand finals, Team China struggled, falling prey to Team Malaysia’s well-executed trap and conceding the first point. However, when the Malaysian team attempted to employ the same tactic, the Chinese side quickly identified and avoided the trap.
As Malaysian athletes focused on setting up additional traps, they inadvertently allowed Chinese players to freely gather in-game resources. This strategic error enabled Team China to gain a significant advantage, rendering them an overwhelming force that Team Malaysia could not counter.
Late-Game Strategies Seal the Victory
Taking cautious measures to maintain their lead, Team China made a roster change in the second match and shifted to a more aggressive approach. This change paid off as they successfully eliminated Malaysian players across the game map, securing a decisive win.
A Landmark for Chinese Esports
This esports gold marks the 48th gold medal for China at this year’s Asian Games. Unlike the medals from the prior Jakarta Asian Games, this one counts towards the official tally, as esports were only considered a demonstration sport back then.
The Gameplay of Arena of Valor
Commonly known as Honor of Kings in China, Arena of Valor is a 5v5 mobile multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, sharing gameplay similarities with renowned titles like Dota 2 and League of Legends. Team China’s roster boasted a mix of current and former professional players from the nation’s commercial leagues.
Esports at the Asian Games: What’s Next?
The Hangzhou Asian Games will feature six additional esports medal events in games like Dream Three Kingdoms 2, Dota 2, FIFA Online 4, PUBG Mobile, League of Legends, and Street Fighter V. Gold medals will be awarded daily from Wednesday to the following Monday.
The Rise of Esports in China
With total revenue hitting 144.5 billion yuan (approximately $21.5 billion) in 2022, China’s esports industry is the world’s largest. This booming market has facilitated the rapid growth of Chinese video game developers and publishers, some of whom have become global leaders in the industry. In 2022, Honor of Kings was identified as the world’s most profitable mobile game, as per Sensor Tower analytics.
Of note, four of the seven esports titles featured at the Hangzhou Asian Games are developed or owned by companies based in China.
A Sensitive Cultural Topic
While esports gain prominence, the topic of video gaming remains controversial among some parents in China, who fear their children becoming addicted to these “spiritual drugs.” Concerns escalated when the World Health Organization recognized gaming disorder as a disease in 2019. To address this, the Chinese government has enacted regulations, including playtime restrictions for minors and age requirements for professional esports competitors.