Esports will make a debut this summer as demonstration sports of the 2018 Asian Games, recognized by the Olympic Council of Asia.
The Asian Games are a multi-sport competition recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and considered the second-largest such event behind the Olympics. A successful run as a demonstration event at the Asian Games could put esports on a faster track for entry into the Olympics.
League of Legends, Pro Evolution Soccer, Arena of Valor, Starcraft II, Hearthstone and Clash Royale will be among the games played at the Asian Games, which will be held in Indonesia from August 18 to September 2, according to the Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF).
In a statement, AESF President Kenneth Fok said stringent criteria was used when choosing the titles, such as that the game must adhere to a vision of promoting integrity, ethics and fair play.
“Esports will strive to inspire and motivate the youth of the world to be the best they can be through educational and entertaining interactive challenges,” he said.
Participating National Olympic Committees will select one player or team for each event three months in advance of the start of the competition. Those chosen players and teams will then take part in one of five regional qualifying competitions throughout Asia. The finalists will come together at the Asian Games in Jakarta to compete live.
In October, the IOC recognized that esports could be considered a sporting activity. Those who work in esports believe the gaming competitions could be added to the Olympics as soon as 2024, potentially exciting a new generation of viewers similar to the way snowboarding ignited a younger audience when it was added in 1998.
A number of challenges, however, still need to be overcome, particularly the fear that many esports titles are violent and not indicative of the values reflected by the IOC.
This year as a lead-up to the Winter Games in South Korea, Intel hosted the Intel Extreme Masters tournament in PyeongChang through a partnership with the IOC.