Competitive gaming has gained immense popularity over the years, culminating with a sub-genre of traditional sports labeled as eSports. While we have international standard tournaments such as The International for Dota 2, Overwatch World Cup, and League of Legends World Championship, eSports is still not regarded as a mainstream event for general audiences, and this might change soon after the incorporation of eSports as an official medal event at the 2022 Asian Games in China.
The sports arm of Chinese online retail giant Alibaba, Alisports is mainly responsible for making this happen, after they announced a partnership with the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). Before making its way to the Hangzhou Games in 2022, eSports will first be introduced at next year’s Asian Games in Indonesia as a demonstration event, featuring FIFA 17, MOBA, and “Real Time Attack” games.
According to an official statement issued by the OCA, the inclusion of eSports as an official medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games reflects “the rapid development and popularity of this new form of sports participation among the youth”.
“The OCA has always been committed to the inheritance, development, and improvement of Asian sports,” said OCA president Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah. “And we look forward to the forward-thinking concepts of sports by Alisports, who will be helping us with their strength and experience in eSports.”
Having eSports as an official medal event at the Asian Games shows great stride in getting international recognition, but it begs the questions, when will it be incorporated in the Olympics as well? Alisports is leading the efforts to do so, after announcing a $150 million investment last year with the International eSports Federation (IESF), a South Korea-based federation that has been campaigning to include competitive gaming in the world’s largest sporting event. Interestingly, Alisports has also signed an 11-year sponsorship deal for the summer and winter Olympics, which is deemed to be worth more than $1 billion. If this is anything to go by, it certainly shows their intent to uplift eSports as an internationally recognized mainstream event, and their efforts might pay off soon.
Source: The Guardian