Both Dota 2 and League of Legends will be medal events at the next Asian Games, after the Olympic Committee of Asia (OCA) announced that esports would be included in their program for the first time in the 2022 games. League and Dota 2 won’t be the only esports rubbing shoulders with traditional sports, as there are eight titles set to be included in what could be a watershed moment for the relationship between sports and esports.
Esports was part of the 2020 program, but only as a demonstration event, meaning that medals did not count toward the official tally at the end of the games. That was surely a chance for the OCA to test the waters, and it seems they have found favorable feedback with their decision to press ahead and make the leap to esports being an official part of the competition.
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The eight games included are:
- Arena of Valor
- Dota 2
- Dream Three Kingdoms 2
- League of Legends
- Street Fighter V
Traditionally, the Asian Games have been dominated by Japan and China, with the latter coming top of the last 10 medal tables and the former finishing first in the eight prior to that, and China should have a great chance to add to their tally with their strong presence in both League and Dota. How many top European and North American pros travel to be part of the show remains to be seen, but the chance to be part of an "Olympic" event may well sway a few who would otherwise have been on the fence.
That will of course also depend on travel restrictions, with the event due to be held in Hangzhou, China in September 2022, but the hope must be that COVID is less of a factor than it is today.
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The event itself will be run by the Asian Electronic Sports Federation, who will also organize the qualifying for the Asian Games esports tournaments, with the OCA hopeful that a year’s notice will see teams properly prepared and ready to give their all. The Director General of the OCA, Mr Husain Al-Musallam, said: “We hope that this announcement allows all participating teams ample time to prepare and equip themselves ahead of the qualifying stages. I believe we have ticked all the right boxes ensuring a high level of competition which promises great viewing for enthusiasts and casuals alike.“
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A total of 27 different nations have registered for the gaming portion of the event, with esports unanimously voted into the games by all 45 member nations in December of 2020. Alongside the eight official games, there will also be demonstration events in two other ‘esports’ categories. These are listed as AESF Robot Masters-Powered by Migu, and AESF VR Sports-Powered by Migu by the OCA website.