In November 2018, Chinese e-sports organization Invictus Gaming hosted the League of Legends World Championship in Incheon, South Korea. It was the first time for a team from China to take home the championship trophy, the Summoner’s Cup. At the time, JackeyLove, who played as the team’s bot laner—a high-damage role that performs ranged attacks—was only 17 years old.

Before he was racking up kills with his signature character Xayah at the 2018 finals, JackeyLove, born Yu Wenbo, had been training with Invictus for three years, slaying enemies for 12 hours a day with no days off, he said in an interview with VPEsports. Still a minor, he was at the peak of his e-sports career.

But from now on, those expectations will need to be adjusted. With the Chinese government capping gamers under the age of 18 to three hours of playtime per week—teenage recruits may no longer undergo intense video game training, at least not without breaching regulations.

Soon after the rules were announced, Tencent’s e-sports arm TJSports—an organizer of leading e-sports events for titles like Honor of Kings, League of Legends, and Game for Peace—issued a notice to say it had set 18 as the new minimum age for competitors. Previously, the lower age limit for the King Pro League (Honor of Kings) was 16, while participants of the Legends Pro League (League of Legends) had to be at least 17 years old.

E-sports journalist Chen Hongyu, who has covered China’s e-sports scene since 2018, told KrASIA that he believes the new regulations will have a positive impact on the country’s e-sports landscape but, for now, China’s e-sports clubs are letting go of underage players.

Many teams in the League of Legends Development League, or LDL, have had to axe their lead gamers. The problem has led to a shortage of fieldable players, so much so that teams are loaning members aged over 18 to each other to remain active in tournaments.

Will China’s e-sports teams maintain their elite status?

Many e-sports fans worry that the new regulations will weaken China’s e-sports prowess in the global arena. The matter is particularly pertinent because e-sports will be a medaled event at the 2022 Asian Games, …….


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