The AeSF (Asian Esports Federation) has confirmed the six esports titles that will be played at the Asian Games in 2018, with a range of MOBA, card game and sport simulator titles being showcased. The Asian Games are notable for being run by the Olympics Council of Asia, which means this move could well be an important step towards esports' earning a wider olympic berth, as well as an important step for esports' mainstream acceptance in general.
Asia's greatest competitors on display
The Asian Games, the world's second-biggest multi-sport event behind only the Olympics, will be taking place from 18th August to 2nd September 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The games being played will be League of Legends, Starcraft II, Hearthstone, Clash Royale, Arena of Valor and Pro Evolution Soccer. Though there has been no confirmation as to how aspiring competitors can qualify, it has been made clear that the host country, Indonesia, will automatically be invited to compete, while other Asian countries will host their own qualifiers. In a statement made by Riot, co-head of esports and head of merchandising and licensing Jarred Kennedy, said: “We’re honoured that League of Legends was selected for the Asian Games. "Representing one’s country at the Olympics is a dream for athletes around the world, and with this step, that dream is one step closer to reality for the best in our sport. We admire and respect the values of the Olympic movement and look forward to supporting the Olympic Council of Asia in making this competition a success.”
An opportunity for esports, but there could be backlash
The Asian Games will present a clear opportunity for a host of different parties, most obviously the players who are chosen to represent their home country but also the many investors looking for a way in to esports. The combination of a wide range of titles and mainstream prestige is sure to garner a lot of attention for the event. There will also be criticism: from both esports fans and traditional viewers alike, albeit for different reasons. But while some negativity is inevitable, there can be no doubt that this is a good thing for esports. If all goes well, The Asian Games could do a lot to advance esports as both a spectator experience and a social phenomenon.