Inside the ‘deadly serious’ world of esports in South Korea

The charm can be hard to resist. Parents have dragged their children into gambling addiction counseling or rehabilitation boot camps. When conscientious objectors apply to be exempted from South Korea’s mandatory military service, officials will investigate whether they play online games that involve weapons and violence.

Ratings drop. Sometimes students drop out of school to spend more time playing games. However, very few will have a chance to succeed.

The 10 professional esports teams franchised in South Korea competing in League of Legends, the most popular game here, only hire 200 players in total. Those who do not make the cut have few alternatives.

In the absence of good grades, and often a high school diploma, players will find themselves with limited job prospects. And unlike some American universities, South Korean schools do not offer esports skills-based admission.

When Gen.G, a California-based esports company, opened its Gen.G Elite Esports Academy in Seoul in 2019, it wanted to address some of those challenges because “this is where most of the talent is,” he said. Joseph Baek. , director of programs at the Gen.G. “South Korea is still considered the mecca of esports.”

The school trains young South Koreans and other students on how to become professionals and helps game fans find opportunities as broadcasters, marketers, and data analysts. Together with the educational company Elite Open School, he opened an English-only program that offers students the opportunity to earn an American high school diploma so that they can apply to universities in the United States with scholarships for esports.

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