After its introduction at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, esports will be returning to the games in 2022. This is a major step forward for the global presence and recognition of esports as a viable competitive game.
Esports at the Asian Games
As mentioned previously, esports were present at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, but they were only a demonstration sport and not a full event. The decision was made at the 39th General Assembly of the Olympic Council of Asia held in Muscat, Oman to reconfirm the decision to include esports in the 2022 Games that was made in 2017.
Now we have official confirmation that the 2022 Asian Games, which will be held in Hangzhou, China from the 10th of September to the 25th, will include esports as an official medalled event. This means that esports will be joining the likes of chess as “intellectual titles”.
Comments from the organisations
According to the Olympic Council of Asia,
“This outcome is a step forward in the right direction as the esports community have been striving hard for the past few years, not only bringing esports into the mainstream limelight but also a step closer to the biggest stage of all, the Olympics.”
This was confirmed by the Asian Electronic Sports Federation who said in their announcement:
“The addition of esports at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou represents OCA’s commitment in evolving and progressing with the times. The AESF looks forward to working closely with the OCA, COC, LOC, and NOCs in staging the most successful Esports event yet. Esports is closer to its rightful position in the competitive sporting scene and we look forward to a continuous and concentrated effort from everyone involved.”
While esports is making waves in Asia, they are having a much harder time in Europe. The 8th Olympic Summit last year confirmed the inclusion of Break Dancing in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, but they did not see fit to include esports despite significant lobbying from giants like Intel. In 2019, the IOC announced:
“With regard to other electronic games, the Summit concluded that, at this stage, the sports movement should focus on players and gamers rather than on specific games. This focus on individuals should promote the participation in sport and its benefits as well as healthy lifestyle at all levels, including a health management model for elite esports competitors including both physical and mental health.”
Games at the events
The titles that were on display at the 2018 Games in Jakarta were Arena of Valor, Hearthstone, League of Legends, StarCraft II, Clash Royale and Pro Evolution Soccer 2018. Despite it being a demonstration event and not an officially medalled event, medals were still handed out to the winners. China won two golds while Indonesia, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan each took one.
The titles that will be played at the 2022 Games in Hangzhou have yet to be confirmed, but if we look at the titles that have been on display previously at events like the SEA Games, titles like League of Legends, Arena of Valor, and StarCraft II are very likely. Expect more updates on the games, players, and events throughout 2021.