Bringing them closer than ever to becoming an Olympic event
In a combined initiative from both the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and Alisports of China, we'll be seeing esports at both the 2018 and 2022 Asian Games. Outside of the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, the Asian Games are one of the biggest Olympic events in the world and run every four years bringing together top athletes from 45 different Asian countries to compete. The Olympic Council of Asia that runs the Asian Games is one of five continental organizations recognized by the International Olympic Committee, and that is the organization that ultimately decides what sports eventually become Olympic events. So this is a big step in the right direction for esports.
The 2018 Asian Games will be held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia, and will showcase esports as a demonstration sport – which means there'll be no medals. This has typically been a stepping stone to sports becoming official Olympic events, as has been the case for the likes of baseball and Taekwondo in the past. Esports have also been added to the OCA's 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, this September as a demonstration sport. So again, no medals – but it puts esports alongside traditionally understood events.
The big date on the esports calendar will be the Asian Games in 2022. This will be the first time esports competitors have the opportunity to win medals at an officially recognized Olympic event.
There's no indication yet about which specific games will be played at the Asian Games, but the AIMAG event later this year will feature "FIFA 2017, MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) and RTA (Real Time Attack) gaming types." So, expect League of Legends and/or Dota 2 along with, no doubt, some flavor of StarCraft.
"The Olympic Council of Asia has constantly been committed to the heritage, development and improvement of Asian sports, and we are extremely pleased about the strategic partnership with Alisports," said OCA President, HE Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah in a statement. "We look forward to further collaboration with Alisports in regards to digital sports concepts along with sporting events. We are sure that the extensive organising capabilities of Alisports, and their experience in e-sports, will assist the OCA in developing all sports."