Those familiar with the eSports scene and have watched tournaments likely remember the moment of victory, when a player or team executes the final piece of a weekend-long strategy and finally gets to hoist the trophy. It’s a remarkable scene, especially given the general level of vitriol that eSports had to deal with only a few years ago from mainstream media outlets. Now, however, eSports gamers won’t just be competing for massive prize pools and spectacular trophies – the Olympic Council of Asia announced early this morning that eSports will become official medal sports at the 2022 Asian Games, which will be held in Hangzhou, China.
The official inclusion of eSports will come after demonstration events that will be held at September’s Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, and the 2018 Asian Games themselves in Indonesia. The Council didn’t specify many of the titles fans should expect to debut at the Asian Games either, although it did state FIFA 17 would be one of the competitions, alongside MOBA and RTS games. The latter two categories being present seem to strongly indicate that League of Legends, Dota 2, and Starcraft 2 will all likely become Olympic games in 2022.
Of course, the Olympic Council of Asia will also have to work on deals with Riot, Valve, and Blizzard if it wishes to include those titles in the 2022 Asian Games. The extreme level of exposure and legitimacy a presence in the 2022 Asian Games would grant eSports titles will be hard to pass up on, however, and it doesn’t seem as if an event so far in the future would cause any kind of scheduling issues with organizations like Blizzard’s Overwatch eSports League.
It is important to note that, while the Asian Games does offer a lot of positives to eSports as a whole, the event might not appeal to all players and team in their respective eSports. It is unlikely the Asian Games will offer the kind of competitive prize pool that massive tournaments like The International do, and professional sports leagues like the National Hockey League have recently attempted to bar players from attending Olympic events – that’s a trend worth keeping an eye on heading into such a potentially big moment for professional eSports.
Still, though, this is a huge moment in the history of eSports that goes a long way in establishing a parity between computer and console games and traditional sports. If the debut of eSports at the 2022 Asian Games goes according to plan, the sight of a League of Legends team with Olympic gold medals around their necks and their country’s flag hanging proudly behind them might not seem out of the ordinary in less than a decade.
Source: Olympic Council of Asia