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Olympic Medalists Go Viral for Esports Performance

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On January 17, a video of Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui and fencer Sun Yiwen playing the Chinese mobile game Honor of Kings by Tencent Games, a multiplayer online battle arena similar to League of Legends, went viral on Weibo.

The two Olympians joined esports professionals such as Fly, Wuwei, and Yinuo as part of the Honor of Kings annual awards ceremony, which honors dozens of the game’s top players.

Honor of kings

A promotional poster for the Honor of Kings annual awards ceremony

Netizens were particularly impressed by Fu’s skill using the game character An Qila, a female personality who uses fire to kill her enemies. The hashtag ‘Fu Yuanhui as An Qila is so impressive’ (#傅园慧安琪拉好强#) was trending on Weibo, accumulating more than 95 million views.

“These athletes were impressive when competing in the Olympic Games. They also didn’t fall behind when playing online video games,” wrote one viewer.

Fly, a professional Honor of Kings player who competed with Fu and Sun in the ceremony, posted on Weibo, “I am showing my respect to Yiwen, who defeated her opponent with her sword in the Tokyo Olympics.”

fly sun yiwen

Sun (left) and Fly (right) competed together in Honor of Kings

Sun and Fu are both high-profile athletes in China. Sun became famous for winning an Olympic gold medal in an individual fencing event in Tokyo, becoming the second woman to do so in Chinese history.

Fu won a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in the 100-meter backstroke. She became famous for her exuberance after winning the medal, and for a post-competition interview where she said, “I have used primordial power” (我已使出鸿荒之力了).

Moreover, she also sparked discussion about period shame in China when she candidly said in an interview that she was on her period while competing in the Olympics.

China’s esports industry is now the world’s biggest, with more than 488 million gamers and a market value of 100 billion RMB (around 16 million USD), according to the Chinese media outlet Sina Tech.

Moreover, less than two months ago, the Shanghai-based esports team Edward Gaming (EDG) won the League of Legends World Championships.

All images via Weibo 

Kayla He
    Born and raised in China, Kayla received her BA in Communications and Public Service from the University of Pennsylvania. She currently works as a staff writer at RADII and is passionate about telling stories related to social issues women's empowerment. You can find her exploring coffee shops in Shanghai in her free time or rushing for Duffy and Friends plush toys at Shanghai Disneyland.
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