In late 2009, a million people converged at the World Finals of the World Cyber Games in Chengdu over four days.
The WCG, if you aren’t familiar, is the biggest annual e-sports event in the world which offers hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money to competitors from hundreds of countries playing games like Starcraft and Counter-Strike. It’s modeled after the Olympics and at the event it’s routine to see players strutting between contests clutching Guitar Hero instruments and keyboards, looking like Olympic athletes in nation-themed jump suits. You’ve probably never had the opportunity to see people take video games this seriously.
I spent a day at the WCG, which was a 15-minute drive south of downtown Chengdu, and came back with these photos:
The World Cyber Games was founded in South Korea, which is home to a thriving competitive gaming community with fixtures like multiple Starcraft television stations. South Korea left the 2009 WCG the winner, collecting eleven of the thirty-six medals awarded. China left with two medals and the United States captured three.
Click here to read the Wikipedia entry of the 2009 WCG or here for WCG’s official site.