Esports’ relationship with the Olympics is doomed to fail unless it’s done properly, according to the UK’s first pro gamer.
Intel and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have announced the Intel World Open, an esports tournament taking place ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
It will consist of a Rocket League tournament and Street Fighter competition, with each event having a $250,000 prize pool. It will take place from July 22nd to 24th, with the Olympics proper getting underway on July 24th.
Esports featured in the 2018 Aisia Games as a demonstration sport and is due to be included in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games; this latest move is another hint that esports could be added to the full Olympic Games in the future.
It follows a similar partnership between the IOC and Intel that saw a StarCraft II tournament, won by Scarlett, staged before the Winter Olympics in South Korea last year.
The difference at Tokyo 2020 will be that Rocket League and Street Fighter are played in front of a live audience, rather than broadcast only as live streams.
However, whilst being hugely popular games, Rocket League and Street Fighter are not deemed ‘tier-one’ esports such as CSGO, Dota 2 and League of Legends and Sujoy Roy – who was Britain’s first pro gamer – is worried the world won’t see esports at its best.
Sujoy, who is director of esports at esports betting platform Luckbox, said: “What makes esports events so great is the atmosphere generated by fans and I’m a bit concerned we won’t see that at its best in Tokyo.
“I fully expect the event to be brilliantly staged and produced, but the games chosen are not the most mature esports and as a result don’t have the full package of support to be successful.
“One suspects the IOC has had a significant influence on the games chosen and it’s easy to see why they have chosen these games – they are easy to understand even for those who don’t follow esports. However, it’s hard to argue that these are the games that will showcase esports at its best.
“Street Fighter and Rocket League are amazing games but CSGO, Dota 2 and League of Legends consistently fill out huge areas because these are the games with the biggest support built up over years from grassroots communities.
“I believe the best way to showcase esports to the Olympic audience would be to ensure one of these tier-one games – CSGO, Dota 2 or LoL – are included.”
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
A keen League of Legends and World of Warcraft player, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He works as full-time content director for the British Esports Association and runs ENUK in his spare time.