Esports has officially been accepted as a career path in China.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of China added “esports operators” and “esports professionals” to its growing list of approved career paths.
The ministry described an “esports professional” as someone who competes in tournaments, performs in events, and trains with other pro players. It also lists a Chinese term that translates to “account boosting” as one of their duties.
Account boosting, the practice of a pro player climbing the competitive ranks on a less skilled player’s account in exchange for money, is illegal and punishable in most organized esports tournaments. The Overwatch League’s list of offenders shows account boosters getting two-game suspensions.
Earlier this year, Valve reset over 17,000 accounts that were mostly used by smurfs, a second account used by skilled players to compete against weaker opponents. The Korean government has even considered formal action against the practice.
It is unclear why the ministry added “account boosting” to the job description, but it’s speculated that it may be a language hiccup, or even the government not having a firm understanding of esports or the specific practice.
Esports has been rapidly growing in China in recent years. China hosts the League of Legends Professional League, home to reigning champion Invictus Gaming. Riot’s World Championship was held in China in 2017, and will be returning in 2020. The country currently has four Overwatch League teams who may play home games in China in the near future.
This year’s edition of The International will be held in Shanghai. The annual event is regularly the richest tournament in all of esports, and Chinese Dota fans will be hoping to see a local team lift the trophy.
As China becomes more accepting of the esports industry, more opportunities in the region’s less developed scenes may also arise.