Cyber athletes earn millions

Beijing, October 26:

Twenty-one-year-old Li Xiaofeng can champion himself as one of the highest-paid athletes in China.

However, one will never see Li competing at the Olympics or in the NBA. He is a professional E-game player, or cyber athlete who works out just as much as other athletes.

“I play 70 hours a week, just to keep my ‘skills’ from dropping,” Li said. “I have to arrange my time really carefully so I don’t spent too many consecutive hours in front of the computer to protect my eyes and my hands from getting too exhausted.”

Said a cyber competition organiser, “Top players who win cyber game competitions are rewarded with huge bonuses ranging from 100,000 to 1 million yuan ($12,660 to $126,600).

The players also earn a lot from sponsorships from game producers. So it is easy for them to earn one million yuan a year.

Li agrees the hard work is worth. “The pay is good,” he said. Warcraft III, Counter Strike, Starcraft: Broodwar and Winning Eleven are the four most popular cyber games at competitions.

China now has 23 million on-line game players, surging from 13.8 million in 2003.