Intel to host Olympic-style esports tournament prior to Tokyo 2020
Intel are one of the major sponsors of esports tournaments around the globe and they are also one of the official partners of the Olympic Games. It is therefore unsurprising that the company has announced that just prior to the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, it will host its own esports tournament in Japan.
The company has announced a prize pool of $250,000 is up for grabs from June 22-24th across two different esports tournaments for Street Fighter V and Rocket League (for a total of $500,000) in what will be known as the Intel World Open.
How will the Intel World Open be organised?
In keeping with the traditions of the Olympics, each tournament will feature a total of 12 nations, which will be pre-selected for the tournament. Each of these dozen nations will then hold national qualifiers across both esports to determine which four players will go forward to represent the nation in the event.
To decide the teams that make Japan, there will be a live qualifier event to be held in Poland at the beginning of June 2020. A total of 20 teams from around the world will compete in the event to determine which team will go forward to represent the Americas, EEMEA (which is Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa) and the Asian Pacific geographic area.
The qualifiers will then join the host nation Japan in competing in the two Intel World Open tournaments.
A significant step for the Olympic Esports Movement
While not an official Olympic event, this is a significant move for those that want to see esports as an Olympic sport. Esports will already be a medal event at the forthcoming Asian games, and with Japan as a key player in the esports scene in the east, not to mention the role of Intel in being a core partner for both Esports and the Olympic movement (where the company is expected to use its technology for 5G Networking, 3D athlete tracking and even a possible drone light-show), it is easy to see why many feel this is an important first-step towards Esports becoming a fully-fledged Olympic sport.
In September 2018, the President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach said that esports were “too violent” to be included in the Olympics. In December, they also stated it was ‘too early’ to discuss esports as being a potential medal event in future Olympics.
However in April 2018, the organisers of the Paris Olympics of 2024 announced that they were ‘deep in talks’ with organisers and representatives from esports about the possible inclusion of esports as a demonstration event at the Paris games.
This event in Japan, which is set up to mirror how an Olympic esports tournament could be organised, is therefore a significant step for those seeking esports inclusion within the Olympics.
Key choice of Esports
It is intriguing to note the choice of games does not include esports deemed violent by the IOC, such as CS:GO, Overwatch or Call of Duty, but are based on esports with less combative elements (in the case of Rocket League) or unarmed combat (in the case of Street Fighter V) which does have representation within the Olympic movement in the form of sports such as boxing or Tae Kwon Do.