A report from the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security reveals that 86% of workers in the eSports field earn up to three times the average salary in the country and less than 15% of job positions in the sector are filled, creating a demand for nearly 2 million workers in the coming five years.

Once regarded as a “prodigal son,” the eSports market has developed careers with high income and good prospects, the report said.

The total number of eSports viewers in the world rose to 454 million in 2019, a 15% increase from the previous year, the report said. In China, the number of core eSports enthusiasts is expected to reach 75 million.

A large number of eSports players are needed to invest in its operations. As eSports continues to develop in China, the field needs constant upgrading to drive fans to consume more eSports entertainment.

More than 5,000 eSports teams are currently operating in China, with about 100,000 eSports competitive players. In addition, there is also an abundance of semi-pro and amateur players that take part in small and medium-sized eSports events. The total scale of eSports players in China is estimated to be more than 500,000.

According to the Workers Daily, eSportsmen are made up of players, coaches, analysts and trainers, and they are classified based on their skill level. They are responsible for taking part in tournaments, researching game content, providing analysis, taking part in game design and testing games.

Most eSports players are concentrated in college or secondary school education with a low employment threshold and an above-average pay grade. Top eSports athletes can make up to a million Yuan per year and more and are paid a base salary, bonuses and commission from endorsements.

What was once seen as delinquent passtime is now being described as “healthy competition”, the report said.

The Ministry of Culture in 2017 issued a memo supporting the development of eSports. Last year, eSports officially became a category at the Asian Games in Jakarta.

Local policies in line with national level policies are also strengthening their support for the sport. The construction and development of eSports towns in Shandong, Zhejiang, Hunan, Liaoning, Anhui and other areas have driven eSports employment as well.

There is now a demand for eSports talent. Industry insiders have said there is a scarcity of eSports athletes and the lack of talent scouting and training has become a bottleneck for the emerging industry.

To speed up scouting and training of eSports talent, the Ministry of Education decided to add eSports and gaming into postgraduate and vocational curricula. The moment the decree passed, colleges and universities added eSports majors and provided support for athlete training.

Universities including the Communication University of China and the Sichuan Film and Television College offer eSports related majors. Many other vocational schools also provide programs related to eSports management.

More than 500 eSports tournaments were held in China in 2018. China has become one of the most influential eSports markets and the demand for eSports players, analysts and coaches has never been higher.

This article was first published on ATimesCN.com and translated by Kamaran Malik.