China’s foremost professional e-sports player, Jian Zihao, has announced his retirement from the role at the age of 23 after citing health concerns.
Likened to a ‘hero’ by his fans, the gamer, known by his online tag ‘Uzi’, has been playing professionally since 2012, predominantly the battle arena game League of Legends.
But now, Zihao has told his five million fans on Chinese social site Weibo that he is stepping back from professional e-sports citing health concerns.
In a post, he stated: “I regret to inform you all that I am proudly making the decision to retire.
“As a result of staying up late for years, a fatty diet and being under insurmountable stress, last year I found out that I was type-2 diabetic.”
Zihao said he was now hoping to step back to continue working on his health, doing more exercise and taking medicine.
“My mental state is not as good as it was before,” he said.
“The doctor has told me that if I continue there could be serious complications. Thank you to my fans for your support and companionship all these years.”
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Zihao’s retirement shines a spotlight on gaming addiction, which is fast becoming a major issue in China and around the world. The Chinese government often link it to health problems in young people.
A curfew was imposed in the country in November last year (2019) for those under the age of 18, which bans them from playing between 10 pm and 8 am.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now classified high levels of gaming a disorder, citing it is “as a pattern of gaming behaviour” which it characterises as people having “impaired control” over how much they game, and having games take precedent over other activities.
Zihao has shown some of the signs. To be diagnosed, the WHO says that: “The behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”
Jian Zihao’s fans wished him well and encouraged him to look after himself and rest.