For millions of Chinese esports fans, this year marks a new apex of excitement for the gaming community, especially after the country's stellar showing over the weekend in a key competition.
Chinese esports club Invictus Gaming defeated European club Fnatic 3-0 to claim the championship at the 2018 League of Legends World Championship in Incheon, South Korea, on Saturday night. It was the first time that a club from China's League of Legends Pro League won the title in the world championship's eight-year history.
The long-awaited victory led to a flurry of activity on social media with views on related news hitting the billions on Weibo. At least a dozen of the top 50 most trendy Weibo topics that night were about China's victory of the world championship.
"Winning the world championship is unreal for me and I never thought it could become a reality," said Yu Wenbo, aka Jackeylove, an esports player with club IG.
Yu was not the only one bowled over as China's esports experts surprised the nation over and over again this year.
Team China participated in three of the six esports events at the 2018 Asian Games in August, which included esports as a demonstration sport for the first time in the Asiad's history in Jakarta, Indonesia, when China pocketed two golds and a silver.
The victories and the popularity of esports are the inevitable result of a dramatically growing esports market in China.
China's esports market value reached 5 billion yuan ($750 million) last year, according to a report by Chinese tech giant Tencent. Last year, there were 250 million Chinese gamers and fans, and the figure is projected to rise to 300 million by 2020.
Although esports will also be a medal event at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games in Zhejiang province, the road to the Olympics seems bumpy.
Kenneth Fok, president of the Asian Electronic Sports Federation, said: "It's a very good first step, and we will take down obstacles, step by step."