Esports is set to make its debut at the Asian Games with medals and glory truly at stake in this year’s edition of the multi-disciplinary contest.
Previously only observed as a demonstration sport at the 2018 Asian Games, Esports will now bring internationally recognised competition in several different gaming categories.
Esports contests at the Asian Games
The Asian Games 2023 will feature EA Sports FC, PUBG Mobile, Arena of Valor, Dota 2, League of Legends, Dream Three Kingdoms 2, and Street Fighter V among others as medal categories.
It hasn’t been an easy road to competitive legitimacy for the Esports industry and similarly, the path has been equally as muddied for those competing.
Mayank Prajapati, India’s medal hope for the Street Fighter tournament, has expressed just how great an achievement this is for esports recalling how his father would be sensationally disapproving of his passion in his younger years.
Now a 3D designer, the now 33-year-old Prajapati explained how he had fallen in love with the Street Fighter game in the late 1990s saying:
“I got addicted and often lied to my parents, saying ‘I am going for tuition’, but spent hours playing.”
He continued in a somewhat light-hearted manner:
“I got a lot of scolding… I think I got beaten up.”
Prajapati’s story is quite a familiar one with Kim Gwan-woo, the South Korean representative for the same competition stating:
“My parents absolutely hated me playing video games.”
He would continue to explain how his parents are still not in approval of this choice, however, he did provide some hope for these prospects saying:
“I think they will be very happy if I actually win a medal.”
South Korea and hosts China are expected to have the majority of contest joy this time out as dominant favourites for gold.
The road to recognition
This Asian Games inclusion is most certainly a massive step in the journey of Esports. Being recognised as a legitimate sport has been a long-term goal for the industry with aspirations of going a step further to competition at the Olympics.
Other landmark achievements also include International Olympic Committee recognition as far back as 2017. Despite being desperate to attract younger audiences, the Olympic goal, however, is not as close as one may perceive.
The major roadblock to this inclusion remains the promotion of violence, an aspect that is deemed against Olympic values, categorically ruling out many titles being included at the Asian Games.
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