E-Sports Set To Be a Medal Sport at Asia 2022 Games

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E-sports have again scored a major win as its disciplines are incorporated as medal sports. The sport is going to be a medal-recognised category beginning with the Asia 2022 games.

E-sports scheduled for Hangzhou in 2022 have already attracted 27 National Olympic Committees in the e-sports categories. Initially, e-sport was a demonstration sport at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games in Indonesia. On December 16, 2020, e-sport was confirmed as a medal sport. This happened during the Olympic Council of Asia General Assembly in Oman.

The Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) will be the sole partner for managing the tournament. Members of AESF have welcomed this decision. The AESF President says there is a further legitimization of e-sports between the AESF and the Olympic Council of Asia. The council offers support to both e-sport athletes and fans.

E-sports Opening the Professional Space

As e-sport becomes an official medal event, many young athletes and enthusiasts will get the opportunity for sustainable careers springing from the Olympic field.

One of the countries taking part in the Asian Games in Saudi Arabia has welcomed medal inclusion in e-sports. Saudi Arabia will be hosting the Asian Games in 2034. The competitions take place in Riyadh’s capital city.

The Indian director of the E-sports Federation is pleased with the step to full medal status. He sees it as an opportunity for Indian e-sports athletes, fans and the whole of Asia.

ESFI, an active participant in the Asian e-sports field, has also received acclaim for having an essential role in supporting AESF’s efforts to champion e-sports within the Asian region. It also fully commits to supporting the growth of e-sports as it becomes a medal sport.

The E-sport Federation Director is confident that they will secure many medals with the move to have e-sport in the Olympics.

Indonesia is another country that has contributed majorly to the development of e-sports. Having been the host of the Asian Games in 2018 in Jakarta and Palembang, the country has welcomed the good news. The Indonesian Electronic Sports Association President is equally delighted with the news.

Having hosted the e-sport Asian Games, Indonesia is willing to share all its resources and experiences with Hangzhou. They are looking to have a larger and grander event.

Support from E-Sport Federations

Full support also comes from the President of the E-sports Federation in Uzbekistan. He terms the move ‘incredible and motivating.’ He is happy that both amateurs and professional e-sports athletes will be able to take part at a grand stage. This, he says, gives the Asia region the status of being a leader in the e-sports industry worldwide.

A medal with an Olympic sign imprint. E-sports are set to be included in the medal category in 2022 Asia Games
The inclusion of e-sports as a medal discipline is a big step forward for the fast-growing sport | Image: Charles Deluvio/Unsplash

Before being part of the Asian Games in Indonesia, e-sport was classified as a demonstration sport during the Ashgabat 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG). It is now is scheduled on the entire program for the next AIMAG happening in Thailand in 2021.

Hangzhou has mentioned that all nations taking part in the Asian Games had sports entries such as swimming, boxing, judo, taekwondo, karate, and weightlifting. The Asian Games are looking to boost sports, urban renewal and the Asian Game Brand in Hangzhou in 2022.

The stage will have 40 sports, 61 disciplines, and 482 events during the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games. E-sports competition runs from September 10 to 25.

Understanding e-sports

Electronic sports, commonly known as e-sports, are a type of competition through video games at a professional level. They often include organized competitions that involve multiplayer video games between professional players, teams or individuals.

Common e-sports formats include a multiplayer online battle arena, real-time strategy, battle royale, first-person shooter, card, and fighting games. Some of the popular e-sport franchise includes the League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Street Fighter, StarCraft, and Overwatch, among others.

The Background of E-sport

The first-ever recording of e-sports happened at Stamford University in October 1972. Students took part in the video game Spacewar. The winner’s prize was a whole year’s subscription to the Rolling Stones Magazine.

In 1980, the first video game competition took place. It had an attendance of 10,000 participants and a lot of attention from the media. Many companies recorded high scores when it came to video games such as the Twin Galaxies. The company managed to post high scores of video games in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Internet Boost

During that period, the internet and the World Wide Web became more popular and widespread. Through the internet, gamers were able to connect easily. As a result, competing online became common. Due to internet connectivity, companies like Blockbuster and Nintendo began sponsoring video games world championships.

The Red Annihilation Tournament that was for the famous Quake game was held in 1997. This was the first global esports event that had about 2000 participants. The winner got to drive off with the grand prize of a Ferrari.

A few weeks later, the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) was formed, and their first tournament took place later that year.

With the turn of the millennium, a lot has changed. More major international tournaments are launching. These tournaments include World Cyber Games, Electronic Sports World Cup, and Major League Gaming, which remains the largest e-sports league. The prize money and number of entrants in these competitions keep growing.

A video gamer in action. E-sports gaming has increased during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Asia leads the world in e-sport popularity, both in terms of players and fanbase. It also contributes about half of the global e-sport revenue. | Image: Florian Olivo/Unsplash

By around 2010, e-sport had gained a significant factor within the video game industry. Many developers took to designing and funding tournaments among other events.

Currently, e-sports revenue stands at around €1.5 billion. There is no sign of it slowing down anytime soon.

E-sports Popularity in Asia

Asia has the highest base of e-sports players and fans worldwide. It numbers about 510 million e-sports fans and 595 million e-sports gamers. The region generates roughly half (50%) of all global e-sports revenue.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, the e-sports viewership and gaming time has increased tremendously. The streaming viewership has increased by 75-100%.

Asia also has a platform known as Bountie, which helps gamers to earn a living while playing their favourite video games.

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