Winners and Chicken Dinners: Inside a Shanghai Esports House

PUBG, OMG, and four gamers vying for $2 million in Berlin.

OMG gamer Yao Hao trains in Shanghai, July 2018. From PUBG’s official Weibo account

The big tournament in Berlin is getting closer for Zhang Jinhai and his teammates, but none of them have really read up on their destination. “I don’t know much about Germany, I only heard the food there isn’t good,” says Zhang, an avowed foodie.

The PUBG Global Invitational kicks off Wednesday in Berlin. At stake is $2 million, and, in the eyes of many esports fans, national pride: Zhang’s team, Oh My God (or OMG), is one of two representing China.

The squads compete in the hit battle royal game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” which has taken the gaming world by storm since its release last year, with some 50 million copies sold worldwide. Its premise is simple: Players parachute onto an island and fight each other to the death using any weapons they can lay their hands on, from machine guns to frying pans. The last player or team left alive wins. In the weeks leading up to the competition, OMG’s gamers — Zhang (in-game name: OMGxiaohaixxxx), Wang Yan (OMGsilentBT), Yao Hao (OMGlionkk), and Liao Liangguang (OMGxiaorong) — are going through their usual routines. Their lives are mostly confined to their apartment in suburban Shanghai, an office building that they call their “camp,” and the five minutes in between. At noon, team coordinator Huang Wen calls Zhang and his teammates out of bed. They start their training at 2 p.m., break for dinner, and don’t turn their computers off until well after midnight.

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Their monthly salaries are around 10,000 yuan ($1,500), in line with what white-collar workers in the city earn. But added to that is income from livestreaming — the players all have thousands of online fans who sometimes show their appreciation with gifts — and the occasional tournament prize money. In June, OMG won the PUBG China Pro Invitational, which earned them 100,000 yuan per player and punched their ticket to Berlin. Read the full article here.


This is original content by Sixth Tone and has been republished with permission.