Despite their dominance in games like League of Legends, it’s been a while since China has really made waves on the international CSGO circuit. That changed a little this week thanks to a standout performance — but one of the country’s brightest prospects might already be forced to retire because of the country’s new gaming restrictions.
The standout performance came from Lizhi “Starry” Ye, a 16-year-old rifler for Lynn Vision. Lynn Vision have spent most of this year hovering around the top of Chinese Counter-Strike, but they’ve often fallen at the final hurdle in regional qualifiers.
Still, past performances are no guarantee of future success. And in this case, Lynn Vision surprised everyone when they met the much more heavily favoured G2 Esports — one of the best CSGO teams on the planet right now. The Chinese team took what should have been a straightforward 2-0 affair into a series that went the distance across all three maps.
One of the highlights for Lynn Vision in the series was the reliable performance of Starry. But the bit that really got the whole CSGO scene talking was an astonishing 1 versus 5 second-half pistol ace, helping the Chinese team get on a roll that would eventually see them win the first map of the series.
It was a perfect 1v5 clutch. Chinese teams aren’t typically at the top of the heap in CSGO, so to go toe-to-toe with the world’s best — G2 finished second at the Intel Extreme Masters Cologne earlier this year, the biggest CSGO event this year so far, and 6th at the recent IEM Fall event — and finish off with a knife kill is all kinds of chef’s kiss.
G2 shook the initial loss off, however, and eventually closed out the series with the kind of performances you’d expect from a team of their calibre (16-10, 16-8). Still, accomplishing that much is a huge win for any team outside of the top 30 — and it’s miles better than what anyone would expect from a Chinese team that had, until now, made literally zero waves on the international stage.
But while everyone thought Starry would have an incredibly bright future ahead after the ace and the series, reality soon struck. The Chinese star posted this on his social media account:
Thank you so much for your support, everyone.
I have never received so much acclaim in my life as today. I am really happy that we managed to beat G2 on one map, and that I was able to show what I can do.
Due to some “speechless” restrictions, today’s match should be my last one in two years. There’s nothing I can do about it.
So it’s kind of a perfect final bow for me.
Anyways I am really happy today.
Really appreciate everyone’s support >_<
Those restrictions he’s talking about are likely China’s new rules around how much time players under 18 can spend gaming. Only one hour of gaming is allowed on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays. Zero on normal weekdays.
China’s National Press and Publication Administration tasks game publishers with implementing these restrictions themselves. This tightening of restrictions is meant to target the 92 to 95 per cent of games in China that are free-to-play and contribute to addiction and excessive spending.
Likely they didn’t intend to affect the professional prospects of players in triple-A titles, but that’s the knock-on effect.
It’s absurd that China’s implementing a time cap on gaming hours and especially how restrictive the hours are. Limiting aspiring pro players to pursue and Chinese contenders to compete. Another dummy law added and can’t wait to see how it’ll be enforced and panned out.
— Jake (@Stewie) October 14, 2021
But this may not be the last we see of the starry-eyed sniper.
Our previous story on the restrictions points out that:
According to Niko Partners’ [Daniel] Ahmad, parents aren’t barred from giving their unrestricted adult accounts to their children, and there’s a large grey market for adult gaming accounts.
Lynn Vision is also reportedly looking for a way to stay in Europe and keep competing.
After the worst parts of the pandemic, competitive CSGO further consolidated around Europe, meaning teams and players who are serious about playing at a global level have no choice but to move there. It can be hard on a 16-year old, though. Just as Obo, who found himself stranded in Europe with Complexity, and after some success decided he’d rather move back home to his family and life.
Hopefully Starry can find a solution that allows him to pursue his passion without living a world away from his friends and family.