2018 Asian Games puts a spotlight on esports

The 2018 Asian Games esports demonstration started on August 26. Though only a demonstration, many take the inclusion of esports in a long-standing international traditional sporting event such as the Asian Games, as a step closer to the rest of the world taking esports seriously enough to make it to the Olympics.

The demonstration features six games: Arena of Valor, Clash Royale, League of Legends, Starcraft II, Hearthstone, and Pro Evolution Soccer 2018. Earlier, a statement from Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) Kenneth Fok revealed the rationale for the six titles. “In the selection of the Asian Games Esports, we exercised stringent criteria, i.e. the game must adhere to our vision of promoting integrity, ethics, and fair play.”

So far, two video game competitions finished with Chinese and Southeast Asian regions dominating the podiums. The Arena of Valor competition saw China at first place, Chinese Taipei at second place, and Vietnam at third place. Clash Royale on the other hand saw Indonesia at first place, China at second place, and Vietnam at third place.

The League of Legends just completed its semi-finals today. As of writing, and perhaps as expected, South Korea has the first seed for the finals match-up tomorrow. The second seed will go to whoever wins at the China vs. Chinese Taipei match-up. The loser will have to compete with Saudi Arabia for third place.

After League of Legends, the demonstration will showcase Starcraft II on August 30. Hearthstone will follow August 31. And finally, Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 on September 1.

Not official yet

The showcasing of esports as a demonstration does not guarantee that it will be put in as an official sport on the 2022 Asian Games. The “medal sport” status means that winning in the competitions adds to the official tally of medals at the end of the event.

That status is yet to be confirmed.

According to the Olympic Council of Asia Director General Husain Musallam, the OCA will only consider esports as an official sport if the different esports groups have a unified international federation. In an Agence-France Press article, he is quoted as saying “There needs to be one international federation. Now there are so many international federations for esports.”

“To be official in the program and not demonstration it has to be one international sport.”

And anyone familiar with esports knows that the feat could be tricky to pull off. With so many video games having international competitive communities, and said video games vying to have the biggest competitive communities, it would prove difficult to have all of them under one umbrella federation.

Still, we have four years before the next Asian Games.

For now, the Asian esports communities are enjoying the spotlight at the Asian Games.

(Cover photo was taken from AESF’s official website.)

Nadine Pacis

Never talk to Nadine about good games with good narratives. She may never stop talking. Other topics she can't stop talking about: games in general, really, consumer tech, and pop culture.