Eat, play, eat, play: The life of a pro gamer in China
Laura Schmitt
Esports has been taking off in a big way in China over the past few years. With 40,000 fans filling Workers' Stadium in Beijing to see a live match and 125 million watching competitive gaming online each year, successful young gamers are enjoying rockstar-like celebrity status.
"Mouse" is one of China's most successful "League of Legends" players. He started out at a time when gaming wasn't a fashionable career path. However, for him it was practical considerations, rather than a passion for gaming, that drew him in.
"Actually, when I started out, my family background wasn't that great," he says. "My major during high school was art, but if I had continued to study at a university or taken an advanced class, it would have been tough on my parents, so I chose to leave school instead."
Rather than incurring the cost of further education, he decided to find a way of earning money. "If I hadn't had to consider these outside factors, I probably would not have chosen to be a competitive gamer, because it's so tiring," he says. "It was only because of my family's situation because I don't want my parents to have a tough life."
Mouse has played for three different teams over the span of his career; Edward Gaming, one of China's most successful companies, among them. In December 2017, he signed for new kids on the block, Rogue Warriors, or RW.
"Mouse" was part of the victorious China team in the Rift Rivals competition in July 2018. /CGTN Photo

"Mouse" was part of the victorious China team in the Rift Rivals competition in July 2018. /CGTN Photo

However, in the early days, Mouse would find that the life of a gamer was anything but glamorous.  
"Two years ago, I was just a substitute, so I didn't really have the opportunity to take part in competitions," he says. "Every day it's just play and eat, play and eat, no competition, no way for me to show my hard work to people."
Even when he was picked for the team and started winning competitions, he found he still needed a thick skin.  
"A lot of Internet trolls won't appreciate how good you are, how much you have put into this and how tired you are," says Mouse. "As long as they think you aren't good enough, they will troll you."
Mouse has participated in 10 tournaments in the course of his career, and has been a member of the winning team in three of them. However, his greatest triumph – playing for the China team that won the Rift Rivals competition in July 2018 – left him feeling somber. He was sad that his father, who died two years ago, couldn't share his success. 
Most pro-gamers are aged 17 or 18; Mouse, at 22, is already considered a veteran. In December 2018, he left Rogue Warriors and has remained without a team.
Still, he retains a positive view of the path he has chosen. "I have given the best years of my life to this stage," he says. "When I leave this arena, I might just be a regular person and live an ordinary life. As long as people remember the hard work I put in for this, then I'm content."