FPX's championship boosts campus e-sports academies

By Wu Jin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, December 19, 2019
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A poster of Chinese team FunPlus Phoenix ready to take part in the 2019 League of Legends World Championship.[photo:ECNS]

FunPlus Phoenix (FPX), the champion of the ninth season (S9) of the League of Legends (LoL), the world's top-ranking multi-player e-sports game, attests that the infinite imagination, flexible tactics and strong teamwork can outweigh star players' personal competence to tip the balance in fierce group competitions.

Growing from small beginnings as an unknown team over the past few years in the Chinese mainland's LoL Pro League (LPL), their victory in the second Championship following the first claimed by Invictus Gaming last year, has not only stimulated professional players to continue to progress, but also convinced many that, after a decade-long operation, the game still has a great untapped potential.

"The LoL will continue to gather sound momentum for quite some time to come on account of its popularity on social media, seasonal tournaments and live streaming on a daily or monthly basis," predicted Wang Xiaohui, director of the exchange and cooperation department of the School of Animation and Digital Arts at the Communication University of China (CUC), in an exclusive interview with China.org.cn.

"As e-sports is heading towards a fully fledged industry, their development inevitably involves academic concerns and studies," she said.

On Dec. 17, CUC, which is among the few Chinese universities to have launched campus e-sports, hosted a roundtable entitled "Second Summit Forum on Cultivating Talent Pool for China's E-sports Industry Development and Digital Media Arts."

The forum, attended by educators, officials, relevant commercial representatives and former top-ranking professional e-sports gamers, was held to achieve a transformation in the social stereotype treating e-sports as nothing but a waste of time and even a form of "spiritual opium" that results in children's helpless addiction.

According to Liu Chungang, who referred to a research conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers Professional Service Network, e-sports is outstripping soccer as the most popular game worldwide. In China, it is especially attractive to the people aged below 35.

The tide is hardly reversible. In the United States, schools such as Robert Morris University Illinois and the University of California Irvine, are providing scholarships to those who outperform in the video game scrimmage, the New York Times reported last year.

Although still unable to offer a recruiting pipeline for those seeking to become professional e-sports players, CUC launched the School of Animation and Digital Arts — focusing on the efforts behind the scenes, including promoting, planning and operating online games.

Wang Xiaohui said: "Institutes of higher education can exert a positive impact on e-sports in regard to professional coaching, training and club management. The operations, which can influence a team's performances in one way or another, can be much improved by those working with the knowledge received from higher education."

She cites the example of data analysis, saying that "the technique of a player's individual operation in competition has its limits, but a team's decisions on how to play the game can be infinite."

By leveraging data analysis, one can achieve more countermeasures to increase the error-identification rate, enabling contestants to cause damage to their rivals at minimum costs, she added.

Her opinion was echoed at the forum by Wang Shijie, president of Hefei Information Technology University, in Hefei, capital of Anhui province.

"Compared to the reluctance of many privileged universities to set up e-sports majors, we are providing curricula to support the new subject. We teach our students hoping to be professional players with a mathematics foundation that enables them to develop a strong sense of logic. Besides, we foster them with the aesthetic beauty of arts for them to flourish amid rich cultural resources," he explained.

In her speech at the forum, Chen Jingwei, the deputy dean of the School of Animation and Digital Art, highlighted the new trend of social standards among young schoolchildren.

"When electing members of class committees, young students no longer pay much attention to those who score higher in exams, but rather those who perform well in multi-player video games, because they are concerned more about the leadership and courage demonstrated in times of difficulties in those games."

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