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FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2013 file photo, fans watch the opening ceremony at the League of Legends Season 3 World Championship Final between South Korea's SK Telecom T1 and China's Royal Club, in Los Angeles. With millions of gamers now regularly spectating video games online and in arenas, game developers are angling to learn a few lessons from esports and possibly create the next "League of Legends" at this year's Game Developers Conference, the annual gathering of video game creators, kicking-off Monday, March 2, 2015, through Friday. A survey by GDC organizers of more than 200,000 developers found that 79 percent believe competitive gaming is now a sustainable business model. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Huge.
CITY GAMES

Hangzhou is investing in becoming the esports capital of the world

By Aisha Hassan

Hangzhou, China is a tourism hotspot with scenic lakes, thousand-year-old temples, and now a brand new esports town complex spanning 3.94 million square feet. (That’s the size of about 68 football fields.)

The esports town, operated by the local government, opened its doors to the public Nov. 16.  It cost ¥2 billion RMB ($280 million) to build, Fox Sports Asia reports. LGD Gaming, a Chinese esports organization that owns several successful teams, and Allied Gaming, which owns a network of esports arenas around the world, have a joint office and esports venue in the complex. It is also where LGD’s League of Legends team will be based.

According to an article on the government-run website People.cn (link in Chinese), the city expects the complex to attract more than 10,000 aspiring esports professionals and ¥1 billion RMB ($140 million) in tax revenues, Esports Observer reports. Hangzhou said it plans to build 14 esports facilities before 2022 and will invest up to ¥15.45 billion RMB ($2.22 billion) to do so. These new projects will include a theme park, an esports academy, an esports-themed hotel, and even a hospital specializing in treating players.

The complex is the first of its kind to open in China. It will not be the last. Chinese company Tencent, the largest video-game company in the world, is building in the city of Wuhu in east China. That development will have an esports university and an esports theme park, among other facilities. Earlier this year, Taicang, also in east China, announced plans to open an esports town.

Hangzhou has an edge on the global stage. The city will play host to the next Asian Games in 2022, where esports are expected to be an official medal event (in 2018, it was a demonstration sport). A Forbes report estimates that esports industry revenues could be $1.65 billion by 2021 worldwide, and China alone is estimated to drive 18% of total esports revenues in 2018. With its investments, Hangzhou is getting ahead in the game.