If the aim of some within the esports community is to drive towards its inclusion as an Olympic Games event, then the road to that eventual goal became a little clearer this past week when the South East Asian Games got underway, featuring for the first time six official esports tournaments, where the eventual winners will land the same gold medals as other athletes competing in other disciplines in the event.
The biannual multi-sports tournament sees a number of south-east Asian countries compete across a number of different sports, such as gymnastics, golf, squash, sailing, tennis, fencing and basketball. However, the tournament also features a number of non-Olympic sports too, such as billiards and snooker, chess, contract bridge and bodybuilding to name a few. Therefore, esports inclusion is a simpler fit compared to the Olympics.
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2019 South East Asian Games & Esports
This year’s tournament is being held at various locations across the Philippines and it runs from the 30th November through to 11th December. Over 5,600 competitors will participate in the event across a total of 56 different sports.
Within the esports category there are a total of six different games being competed for, two on PC, two on mobile devices, one on console and one esports PC card game. The games that will be contested at the San Juan Filoil Flying V Centre as part of the games are:
- Mobile Legends Bang Bang (Mobile)
- Hearthstone (PC – Card Game)
- Dota 2 (PC)
- StarCraft II (PC)
- Arena of Valor (Mobile)
- Tekken 7 (Console)
What is unusual about the South East Asian Games is that players and individuals will not represent their teams, or themselves, but their country. So, each esports event has a team or individual from southeast Asian countries competing.
Along with esports, there are a number of other sports being debuted at the tournament this year including Duathlon, Beach Handball, Surfing, Skateboarding and Wakeboarding.
Razer Included as Esports Partner
Esports inclusion in the event was announced by Razer, who were named as the ‘official esports partner” for the tournament.
As part of the deal, Razer has provided equipment for the players competing in the event and Razer’s social media channels on YouTube and Twitch have broadcast highlights of the action in the esports tournament so far.
Although this is an important step for esports in its quest to become an Olympic sport, it is not the first time that esports has been part of a major tournament in Asia. Last year, it was a demonstration sport at the Asian games, and before that esports have been a part of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games tournaments for several years.
However, what is interesting is that the Southeast Asian Games are organised by the Southeast Asian Games Federation, who are duly governed by the Olympic Council of Asia and by virtue of that, also the International Olympic Committee.
The fact that esports gamers can represent their countries and now win gold, silver and bronze medals at a key sporting event is a big step forward for the esports industry and while it’s inclusion in the Olympics doesn’t seem likely any time soon, the South East Asian Games represents a huge step forward for esports Olympic dreams.
Image courtesy of SMART / Dale Julian