In Pictures: World Cyber Games in Chengdu

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:

Hundreds line up to enter the convention center for the 2009 World Cyber Game Finals in Chengdu
Banners outside the convention center don't bear the official WCG insignia but feature popular game characters
Large WCG flags like this hang from the high ceilings in the convention center and resemble Olympic insignia
A strength-testing boxing game at the video arcade inside the convention center costs 2 yuan to play
A Polish Counter-Strike team of five works together to defeat their Indian adversaries
Counter-Strike semi-finals on the main stage feature large projection displays for the crowd of thousands to watch
A row of flags representing all of the participating countries. In total, there are over fifty flags present
A Russian gamer plays against, and loses to, South Korean Jae-Dong in the 1998 hit game Starcraft
"Guess the Winner" offered cash prizes for accurate predictions of match outcomes to attendees
Cheering on Chinese Warcraft 3 competitor by holding up a sign: "Tu Dou Ming will definitely win" (???????)
An attendee plays XBox 360 game Dirt 2 on a 6-panel LCD display with racing seat and force feedback steering wheel
Posing as a SWAT member from Counter-Strike
A "L33t Crew" terrorist from Counter-Strike
An Eastern European deftly clicks his mouse over 100 times a minute as he plays Starcraft
A South Korean on the main stage responds in the final moments of a FIFA 09 match
One of many marketers chanting slogans
Russian competitor looks on to FIFA players
Huge crowds constantly followed Bisu, celebrity Starcraft player from South Korea

Chinese flag hangs proudly from the convention center's high ceilings
Toting promotional articles and wearing AMD-branded uniforms, dancers prepare to take the stage
Bisu speaks about coming to Chengdu and participating in the 2009 WCG in China
A dancer takes a bow after finishing his performance
A cosplay fantasy character takes the sponsored stage
Bisu casually browses his e-mail as a crowd of dozens eagerly photographs the South Korean gaming celebrity
Korean announcers broadcast live and scream the latest updates to avid listeners in South Korea
An attendant greets entrants to the convention center
Security guards observe the players together

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.

4 thoughts on “In Pictures: World Cyber Games in Chengdu”

  1. While my non-gamer self drools at the idea of easy target nerdy gamer jokes, I’ll just put a positive spin on this article by noting that events at the convention center are fun for all males due to the requisite hordes of scantily clad Sichuan women modeling, handing out fliers, and so on…

  2. The video game scene in China I find really fascinating with consoles having been illegal there for so long. This event looked pretty lively, though. Thanks for the writeup!


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