Dunai, a new way of wishing favorite players good luck, has become a unique aspect of eSports culture that is making the rounds on Chinese social networks

The League of Legends 2017 World Championship, one of the world’s biggest eSports competitions, has recently entered the finals. As this is the League of Legends’ first world-class eSports competition to be held in China, each of the S7 matches has created a buzz on Chinese social platforms.

In addition to the exceptional performance of the players, the unique eSports culture created by Chinese eSports fans has become a hallmark of China’s young adult segment. For example, “Sao hua”, an amusing but meaningless termhas already evolved into a commonly-used expression among Chinese eSports fans. Taking the trend a step further, Chinese fans have given nicknames to many of their favorite foreign players using a local term of endearment. To cite a few examples, SOAZ has been nicknamed “Saozi” (sister-in-law), while Rekkles has earned the moniker “ou’chen” (a Chinese term of endearment with no real equivalent in English), with the two players coming to adopt the names themselves once they learned of them. Finally, the word “Dunai” can be heard on the lips of every member of the Chinese eSports community.

Dunai is an expression originating from World of Warcraft (WOW), where the word is used when the cure administered by the priest who has such curative powers and the ability to enhance energy proves to be ineffective and even counter-productive. The trend of using the word in the Chinese eSports community was pioneered by the well-known Chinese eSports commentator Huang Xudong who often predicts the outcome of a game by wishing the player who he believes will win good luck, whereas the outcome often turns out to be the opposite.

The Dunai phenomenon is now haunting virtually all of the matches. The exemplary case was the competition where WE, one of the top eight teams in the worlds, competed against C9. Commentator Huang wished C9 good luck via the Chinese social website Weibo as he believed that the player would win, with the result that the player was eventually eliminated. Joker, another famous Dunai commentator in the eSports community, said on Weibo that LZ will sweep to a complete victory, yet, the LZ team suffered a crushing defeat.

Dunai is not unique to China. Pelé, the Brazilian-born King of Football, is a Dunai in the eyes of Chinese fans. Pelé sent his best wishes to participants of several world sports competitions, including last year’s Olympic women’s volleyball final. He predicted the Seville team would win the women’s Volleyball Championship, but the victory was ultimately secured by the Chinese women’s volleyball team. Furthermore, the phenomenon of always expecting the worst in football matches is another manifestation of the Dunai phenomenon.

It is not surprising that the facetious yet amusing Dunai culture was born in China, as the country’s eSports market is one that has developed quickly. Watching and discussing matches has been a major way in how Chinese millennials interact with each other, as they are, for the most part, big fans of eSports. Although the two China teams failed to enter the finals, Chinese audience have remained ardent fans.

As is known, The World Championship Tournaments of League of Legends were held in China this year, and the colors of red and blue exactly belong to two teams which fight against each other in Summoners’ Rift. During the tournaments, there were some landmark buildings were covered with both red and blue to show their local support to the Worlds: The Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan, Hubei province; the Liede Bridge in Guangzhou, Guangdong province and the Oriental Pearl Tower in the Bund in Shanghai. Their new appearance caught by the public with tons of topics followed, thus an E-Sports tournaments became an uprising phenomena in China, and it undoubtedly will catch more and more eyes on E-Sports scene.

In recent years, eSports has become highly popular worldwide. According to statistics from esports-charts,a market research firm providing analytics on eSports and streaming trends, as of the semi-finals, nearly 100 million fans had watched the live broadcast of the the worlds match, making the worlds one of the world’s most watched sports events this year. The match drew a lot of attention worldwide to China’s eSports culture and to the Dunai phenomenon. It is quite possible that the term Dunai will sweep across the globe just as “Chinese Aunt” and “XianXia”, two other China-originated amusing but meaningless terms that preceded it. 

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