‘I run towards my dream’: Chinese teen with muscular dystrophy finds his calling as esports athletejessie tan
A teenage man with muscular dystrophy that left him physically disabled has become a top esports player, a profession that requires a high level of finger dexterity.
Sa Ye, 19, better known as Qizai — a nickname used by his friends and fans, said he loves the industry as it enables him to run in the virtual world and to earn money to support his poor family, the Yangtze Evening News reported.
“In the esports world, I can run and jump like an ordinary person. No one knows my physical condition. On the contrary, when I play well, my teammates will give me a thumbs-up. I feel very uplifted,” said Qizai.
Originally from a rural family in Xuanwei, Yunnan province, southwest China, Qizai is a member of Jiangsu VS eSports Club. He and his teammates have participated in this year’s spring season of Peace Elite League (PEL), a major esports contest in China, which started this week.
The gamer only took up the profession last year. Before that, he was an online game host, with 400,000 followers.
Qizai was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was seven. His limbs began to bend and eventually he could not walk because of the disorder. He now gets around in a wheelchair.
He dropped out of primary school after just one year. Since then, he has spent most of his time sitting idly at home.
As a result, he began to play online games. “I can not do many things at home, so I play mobile games from my wheelchair,” Qizai said. “My arms can not stay straight and can not do extensive movements. But my fingers are fine.”
In 2018, Qizai wrote to the Chinese celebrity gamer known as Rancha Brother, asking for tips on becoming an online game host. “I am a disabled person. My condition is deteriorating and it will be more and more difficult for me in the future. I’d like to take advantage of the time I have while my fingers can still move to practise gaming skills. I want to make money through game live-streaming for my parents,” wrote Qizai.
Touched by his story, Rancha Brother sponsored him a computer and a mobile phone and gave him some guidance, before Qizai began his live-streaming career.
Qizai said he usually live-streamed for six to seven hours a day in addition to several hours spent practising online games.
Last year, he decided to take on another challenge — become a professional gamer. It means he needs to undergo daily training of more than 10 hours.
Qizai attended a PEL match, also known as Game for Peace, his first professional gaming competition, at the end of last year and won the Rookie Award.
“The charm of esports lies in its uncertainty and vast changes. It is also reflected in the euphoria we feel when we achieved something after working so hard,” Qizai said.
“In real life, I can’t stand up. But in games, I can run without any restraint and run towards my dream,” he said.