The Asian Games hosted in Hangzhou, in 2022, will see eSports become an official medal sport within China. This was all possible through the strategic partnership of OCA, the Olympic Council of Asia, and Alisports. This is owned by the Chinese Alibaba Group, giants in e-commerce.
So, what does this mean exactly? Well, at the Asian games people will expect to see weightlifters, ping-pong players, triathletes etc. but now alongside these “real world” athletes, spectators will also view the likes of “cyber-athletes”. These “cyber-athletes” will be seen heatedly thrashing their gaming controllers and keyboards. Whilst playing games such as Electronic Art’s Fifa, Counter Strike Global Offensive and Blizzard’s Dota 2, as they fight for the win.
It has been a long time coming for the Asian games to add in events that were more unconventional in nature. Throughout the years, the Asian games is said to host events such as body-building alongside board game events. The Asian game also introduced “dancesport” alongside a game that is an Indian favourite called kabaddi to its array of events.
Pushing the Boundaries
eSports cannot be categorised as a fringe “sport” compared to some of the aforementioned sports. eSports, however, is an event that fills stadiums. Research has exposed that eSports is as popular, if not exceedingly more popular, than the viewing habits of teenage American males watching hockey or basketball.
Popular brands from a vast range of industries, are excited to invest in eSports. So that they can target the untouchable millennial generation by purchasing a stake in this multi-billion-dollar industry.
In 2016, eSports were said to have generated revenue to the value of $493 million, which reached over 320 million people globally.
A New Sports Variation
eSports are a reflection of swift development and increasing popularity among the youth, the OCA announced. Games like League of Legends have had mass viewings of their own tournaments. The latest League of Legends finals reached up to 14.7 million viewers concurrently.
The president of OCA, expressed his excitement to collaborate with Alisports as they incorporate digital and real sporting events under one spectrum. Since eSports are only growing in popularity and influence, we expect they will become a feature in other global sporting events. The Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics also aims to include eSports.