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Beyond the Games| Uzbek athlete hopes for exchanges with China in esports

By Li Hang| Global Times| Updated: July 4, 2023 L M S


Photo: Courtesy of Sabina Ibragimova

A 20-year-old Uzbek esports athlete Sabina Ibragimova said that she is expecting upcoming games at the Hangzhou Asian Games and hopes to have exchange with China in the esports field as the Cen-tral Asia country is taking steps to boost the growth of the industry.

As a veteran esports athlete, Ibragimova previously competed as a professional player in PUBG: Battlegrounds for nearly four years. With support from the Uzbekistan Esports Association, she and her teammates founded the KANIBADAM Girls team and participated in the PUBG Mobile European Wonder League Season 2.

Despite her recent transition to the Asian version of the Arena of Valor, one of the seven esports games in the Asian Games, Ibragimova is confident about her team. 

"Our team's strength lies in our unity and the ample time we dedicate to training and reviewing our matches. We have put in a lot of effort, and I am confident that we can secure first place in our region," she said.

Ibragimova is one of the selected participants who will compete in the esports competitions at the upcoming Asian Games, scheduled to be held in September-October in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province.  

The Hangzhou Asian Games will be the first large international sports event that includes esports as official medal sports events, a move demonstrating the growing popularity and global reach of esports. 

In recent years, China has witnessed the flourishing of the esports industry. In 2016, China's Ministry of Education officially listed eSports management as a major at the country's higher education institutions, leading to the establishment of numerous esports-related programs in colleges to cultivate talent. In 2021, China's Edward Gaming (EDG) team clinched their first League of Legends World Championship title by defeating South Korea's DK team, further inspiring the domestic market.

In a significant stride toward esports development, Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a presidential decree in November 2022 recognizing esports as a separate sports discipline. The decree, aimed at promoting the growth of the industry, includes provisions for the training of professional esports athletes and coaches, and other specialists in the industry, according to a Xinhua News Agency report. 

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