In another big step towards competitive gaming being considered a mainstream spectacle, esports has been added to the lineup of official medalled events for the 2022 Asian Games along with breakdancing.
The Asian Games already showed its support for competitive gaming in 2018 when it made esports an exhibition event alongside canoe polo. Yes, that’s a thing apparently. Now though, after year-on-year growth in the esports industry, the Asian Games wants to officially recognise esports in its 2022 event in Hangzhou, China, making it a proper medalled event. Sadly, there’s no such luck for canoe polo enthusiasts. Sorry.
While there was no mention of which games will feature in the esports competitions, the exhibition event hosted at the 2018 Asian Games featured six titles: League of Legends, Clash Royale, Arena of Valor, StarCraft II, Hearthstone, and Pro Evolution Soccer. With Asia being arguably the key region for mobile games, expect the likes of Arena of Valor to return, and as the world’s most watched esport, League of Legends will obviously be a likely candidate too.
As was pointed out by esports journalist Ashley Kang, pro gamers in South Korea may become very interested in esports being added to the Asian Games lineup. Military service is mandatory in the country, and many South Korean pros have to forfeit some of their time as a top competitor to do their service, despite a recent bill passed in the country which will allow pro gamers to defer their service until the age of 30.
Important news, especially for the South Korean esports players as winning a Gold Medal in an official event in Asian Games can lead to military service exemption
Military service exemption. https://t.co/wKG3YYCaqS
— Ashley Kang #LCK (@AshleyKang) December 16, 2020
However, exemptions are made by the South Korean government for those who achieve gold medals at major sporting events, as was evident from the nation’s football team who won gold in 2018 after beating Japan in the final.
While we don’t know for sure which games will be featuring in Hangzhou, we do know that this will be the first time pro gamers will leave an official sporting event with a gold medal around their necks.