A Step in the Right Direction: Esports in the Olympics

“Should esports be considered a sport?”

Depending on what side of the fence you sit — yes, by this point you should have a “side” — will dictate how you will feel about the the Intel World Open. The Intel World Open Esports tournament will feature seven national teams that will compete live at the Zepp DiverCity venue in Tokyo, Japan, setting the pre-text to next summer’s Olympics.

Players wishing to represent their county on the Olympic stage will compete in a series of online open qualifiers early next year. Once the national squads have been selected, they will then battle it out to decide who qualifies for a spot in Tokyo at a live qualifying event in Katowice, Poland in June of next year.

The Intel World Open Overview

  • Date: 22/07/2020–24/07/2020
  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • Titles: Rocket League and Street Fighter V
  • Total Prize Pool: $500,000 (£405,175)

Why is this Huge News?

Some readers may remember a similar esports event sponsored by Intel in 2018, just before the Winter Olympics began, that saw players competing in popular strategy game StarCraft II. StarCraft II is a real-time strategy game, and although the event drew excitement at the time, the nature of the game arguably lacked accessibility for spectators who did not play the game.

If you are a believer in esports and its assimilation into the Olympics, then you would understand why this just before the Winter Olympics was such a big deal. In spite of that, though, if the underlying objective is to convert those that may not see the relevance of competitive gaming in the Olympics, StarCraft II may not have been the ideal title.

For that reason, it would make sense that the following two titles could open the door to an Olympic Games featuring esports titles. Street Fighter V has a prestigious history in Japan, featuring as one of the nations all-time leading competitive titles. It strikes the perfect balance between fast-paced, all-action entertainment and simplicity to captivate and maintain the attention of viewers. Rocket League, like Street Fighter V has a simple concept, which is a leading contributor to its success; both titles are accessible, which is what makes them perfect for a large audience during next summer’s Olympics.

Credit: Stevivor

There will be those that continue to oppose incorporating esports within the Olympics. Yet just as traditional athletes dedicate their lives to excelling in their chosen sport, and reaching the highest levels, so do esports athletes. The esports athletes of this summer proved just that. 16-year old world Fortnite champion, Bugha, proved that Fortnite was a lot more skilled than just an over-hyped violent killing frenzy, and Red Bull sponsored OG claimed an impressive TI victory despite a below-par competitive season. The world’s greatest athletes will train tirelessly to be the very best; for esports athletes just as well as traditional sporting athletes.

Pay Close Attention

As esports continues to grow, we are seeing a steady increase in international esports competitions; there is FIFA’s eWorld Cup, Fortnite’s World Cup earlier in the summer, the eEuro’s next year, and now Intel’s World Open. Although esports has yet to be officially included at next summer’s Games, thanks to Intel and the IOC, we will see an insight into the exciting future of esports on a global scale. If we consider the factors that will drive the mainstream recognition of esports, and later acceptance into organised sporting events, like the Olympics, then fielding national teams in certain esports titles is the way forward, especially when millions back their nations in global events already.

And for those that hold the view that esports is “too violent to be considered for the Olympics”, well you’ll just have to look at sports like boxing, wrestling, sword fighting and shooting, that also have the ability to incite violence, but we’ll leave that one for now.

If you thought esports was big this year, just wait until next!

We’d love to know what you think! Do you think esports is ready for a feature in the Olympics? If not, what do you think esports is lacking? What do you think of the titles selected?

Let us know in our social channels!

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