Big news hit the gaming industry this week as it was confirmed that eSports would officially be included in the 2022 Asian Games hosted in Hangzhou, China.
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) announced, in partnership with Chinese online retail sports firm Alisports, that gold medals would be up for grabs in a selection of eSports. The categories which are tipped to be featured include sports (FIFA), strategy (Starcraft) and moba (Dota and League of Legends).
So, Why Is This Happening Now?
A statement from the OCA read that the decision to include eSports in the 19th edition of the Asian Games reflects “the rapid development and popularity of this new form of sports participation among the youth.”
The statement went on, “The OCA has always been committed to the inheritance, development, and improvement of Asian sports. And we look forward to the forward-thinking concepts of sports by Alisports, who will be helping us with their strength and experience in eSports.”
It is a shocking but positive turn of events for the eSports sector, which is growing from strength-to-strength with each passing year. Global eSports revenues are expected to hit the $1.5 billion mark by 2020.
That figure is certain to increase even further by the time the 2022 Asian Games come around.
The Planet’s Obsession With eSports
Reports suggest that eSports take in a global audience of more than 300 million people. The 2016 League of Legends World Championship Final drew an audience of 43 million unique viewers alone. Those numbers are anticipated to double over the next five years. According to Newzoo 40 million viewers are expected in South East Asia alone by 2019.
These projections show how far eSports has come over the past 5-10 years. It has transitioned from a sector that was laughed at for being a hub of geeks obsessed with cosplay, to now becoming one of the most lucrative industries on the planet.
Professional eSports players have gone from being outcasts of society to becoming household names amongst the new generation of internet users. Players like Saahil “UniVeRsE” Arora, Peter “ppd” Drager and Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan are now gaining fan bases on a level with iconic sportsmen like Usain Bolt, Tom Brady and Wayne Rooney.
Betting on the outcome of eSports events is also becoming big business too. Anthony Werkman, Operations Director at Betway, says “Esports continues to grow beyond our own lofty expectations by featuring regularly in our daily top 10 sports for turnover. We are delighted that the inclusion of esports into the 2022 Asian games continues the trend of growing acceptance of esports into the mainstream.”
Bring On The LA Olympics 2024…
For lots of people, the inclusion of eSports in the 2022 Asian Games is seen as a stepping stone towards the industry becoming included in the Summer Olympics.
LA 2024, the team behind the Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics has already stated their admiration for eSports. The team has announced it plans to draw inspiration from the League of Legends World Championship by using technology such as augmented reality and virtual reality if they in the 2024 Olympic Games bid.
The decision to add eSports to the 2022 Asian Games has not come without its critics. The fact other sports such as card games, dragon boat racing, skateboarding, surfing and body building haven’t even been included in the game schedule yet means there’s a lot of angry people on the Internet.
However, whatever the public opinion is regarding eSports at the Asian Games, the games witness more than 10,000 athletes competing across a variety of disciplines every four years. If you want to learn more about the weird world of eSports you’ve got plenty of time. Why not warm up with the some light viewing? Check out our 10 best eSports documentaries of all time and the hottest 10 Twitch eSports channels to get yourself ready for 2022.