Asian Games 2022 add esports as medal events – Why is this still a thing?

The Asian Games 2022 will include Dota 2, LoL, Street Fighter, FIFA and four other esports titles as official sports. The announcement wasn’t just another publicity stunt for esports, but a “proud” moment for the gaming community as well. Those seeking to push recognition for esports as a sport finally achieved their goal. Esports titles will become medal events at next Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

Why does this matter? – Well ratings, advertisers and audience appeal.

Asian Games 2022

Asian Games 2022 and Esports

Dota 2 is one of the many Esports to be played at the Asian Games 2022 in Hangzhou, China. For other Esports enthusiasts, the list of esports titles includes League of Legends, FIFA, Street Fighter V, Arena of Valor Esports, Hearthstone and PUBG Mobile.

Frankly, the decision to include these esports titles came as no surprise, considering China’s push to create the capitol of esports and become the go to destination for esports events. Furthermore, it’s a play to draw in the younger generation’s to watch the Asian Games 2022 with the appeal of esports games. After the general lack of interest in the Olympics this year, and the overall decline in ratings for these sort of events over the past decade, it’s no surprise the Olympic Council of Asia is seeking new ways to entice audiences.

We anticipate Chinese and Korean powerhouses to be staples at the Asian Games 2022 with established organizations hoping their players get to represent the country. We might even have temporary stacks of all-stars representing their respective countries too.

On the other hand, we might end up with B-tier competitors as both LoL Worlds, The International and EVO are set in roughly the same period next year. With the Asian Games 2022 set between 10-25 September 2022, most teams/players will be either competing in regional competitions or traveling/returning from massive competitions in their main titles.

Esports vs Sports controversy re-ignited

While esports’ growth has been phenomenal, olympic sports and athletics have taken a dip in interest. Now with esports added to boost interest, the controversial debate on whether esports deserve to be on the same page as sports continues. Should pro players even be called athletes since it’s a game in the Asian Games 2022?

We have re-hashed the debate many times. Esports is very much a passive activity, where players aren’t actively moving. Nor is there really any probability of a physical injury like a typical sport. For these reasons, esports similarly to chess, always remained on the negative side of people’s discussion about sports recognition.

Once ratings take a hit, esports is the new go to market. Erste Group had a nice take on it in their recent commercial:

Exemption from military service for Korean gold medalists

One positive from this entire charade might be Korea deciding to offer exemption from military service for Korean gold medalists. Men in their 20s in Korea must perform military service. When it comes to sports and esports, the time off may be a huge detriment to their careers.

The Asian Games 2018 winners, were exempt from service due to their athletic achievment. A potential exemption might come as a pleasant surprise to encourage Korean pro-players to perform their best at the Asian Games 2022.

Asian Games 2022 will undoubtedly put esports in the spotlight for the better, especially with age groups not introduced to the concept yet. The Esports industry is estimated to be worth approximately $1.08 billion. Hence, it’s only a matter of time before more countries accept esports as a worthwhile investment.

There are some small positives to take away here. It’s not esports needing recognition, it’s other sports needing esports to stay afloat.