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Intel partners with the IOC to revitalize esports in Japan

Esports Japan Intel Tokyo Olympic

In Japan, esports is lagging far behind nations like South Korea and China. But now, competitive gaming in Japan should receive a significant boost thanks to Intel’s plans to partner up with the International Olympic Committee.

This will usher in a brand new esports tournament that takes place just before the 2020 Olympic Games.

The first-ever Intel World Open esports competition will be held before a live audience in Tokyo. ESL will be on hand to take care of the production of the gaming event. The action will take place from July 22-24, 2020. That’s the week before the Summer Olympics kick off.

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Games featured at the biggest ever Japan esports event

The Intel World Open will focus on games like Street Fighter V and Rocket League. Street Fighter V was developed by Capcom, while Rocket League was created by Psyonix and Epic Games. All of these games companies will be joining the partnership. The overall prize pool has been set at an impressive $500,000 with $250,000 up for grabs in both parts of the tournament.

This won’t just be a big boost for esports in Japan. It will also mark the highest prize pools in Street Fighter V and Rocket League competitive gaming.

Both of these titles lag behind classic esports such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends in terms of global popularity. But Street Fighter V and Rocket League have been selected for the Intel World Open due to their appeal for a Japanese esports audience that may be unfamiliar with standard competitive gaming titles.

What is the Intel World Open format?

The Japan esports competition will feature teams from 12 pre-selected counties. The national qualifiers will begin in March. Gamers who are not from one of these nations can still compete in regional qualifiers that decide eight other teams.

This means that 20 teams will go head to head in semifinals that will be held in Katowice, Poland. From there, only the seven best teams will get to make an appearance in the Intel World Open finals alongside the Japanese national team who gain automatic qualification.

What does this mean for esports in Japan?

For a country that has given the world gaming powerhouses like Nintendo, Sony, Bandai Namco, and Square Enix, the Japanese esports scene has been fairly slow to get going.

Much of this has been put down to cultural issues as well the nation’s strict gambling laws, which make esports betting virtually impossible. But recent developments such as esports initiatives in Kanazawa and bespoke Japanese esports facilities show that things could be changing.

Intel has previously worked with IOC by hosting the Intel Extreme Masters that was held just before the 2019 Winter Olympics in South Korea. By working with the sporting organization before the Tokyo Olympics, Intel will hopefully convince the authorities that esports in Japan is an avenue worth pursuing.

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Image courtesy of Intel

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