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The game is on in a Putuo shopping mall

April 01, 2019 |

The city's first electronic sports center in a shopping complex opened on Sunday in Putuo District for both top-level competitions and amateur players.

The IMBA e-sports center at the Global Harbor Mall, the biggest downtown shopping mall, held its inaugural game of a CS:GO world tournament.

Sixteen teams from across the world were competing for a total of 3 million yuan (US$447,000) in prize money.

The 1,500-square-meter center on the mall's fifth floor has 240 professional e-sports computers and nearly dozens of compartments for the training of professional teams and amateur group players.

The center marks the first milestone project for Putuo's aspiration to develop an industrial belt for movies and e-sports along the Suzhou Creek, said Wang Chunming, director with the district's culture and sports bureau.

Elsewhere in Putuo, the city's first e-sports theme park, covering 28,000 square meters, will be built in the Changfeng business district for e-sports games, training and broadcasts, Wang said.

In another key project, an e-sports complex covering 80,000 square meters both under and above ground will be developed on the site of the city's former Caojiadu Flower Market. The popular market was shut down in December 2017 to give way for the e-sports park which will feature game and training centers as well as e-sports themed hotels and offices, Wang said.

"The district government will also offer supportive policies for e-sports companies and professional players and coaches, apart from these bricks-and-mortar sites," he told Shanghai Daily.

The world's top players will be invited to meet with local fans at the new center when there are no games. Some of them became the first batch of players to experience the facility.

"I've been taking part in games around the world and the center should have the world's highest standard with its equipment," said Vinicios Coelho, one of the top players on the shooting game CS:GO with Brazilian team paiN.

Alexander Starostin, a staff member with Russia's leading team Spirit, said the environment was good for the training of the players. "The compartment for five to 20 players can help them concentrate and enhance cooperation," he said.

E-sports are organized video game competitions that often involve professional players. By the end of 2018, China had replaced the United States to become the world's largest e-sports market with 350 million participants, more than half of the world's total.

Shanghai has issued preferential policies for the e-sports industry to become "the world's e-sports capital."

"The payments and public attitude towards us e-sports players have been improved greatly in a decade," said Li Binghuan, a top Chinese player with Chengdu-based team Panda. "The average monthly income of a player has increased to around 20,000 yuan (US$2,985) from 4,000 yuan a decade ago," the 28-year-old Li said.

When he retires from playing in around two years' time, Li plans to become an e-sports coach or commentator which could also secure him a reasonable income, he said.