A look into the 2022 Asian Games, and why Korean esports athletes are so eager for the gold


The 2022 Asian Games is a multi-sport event that’s slated to be held in Hangzhou, China. In 2018, esports was a demonstration sport, which means that it did not count towards the medal tally. However, for the first time in the history of Asian Games, things are different this year. Let’s take a look at which esports titles will be featured at this year’s event, as well as why this event especially holds more meaning for the progamers in Korea.


The eight esports titles, and the role of KeSPA

The eight esports titles that will be featured at AG 2022


The 2022 Asian Games will feature eight esports titles: Arena of Valor, Dota 2, Dream Three Kingdoms 2, FIFA, Hearthstone, League of Legends, PUBG Mobile, and Street Fighter V. A huge role in the event lies on the shoulders of the Korean Esports Association (KeSPA), who are in charge of setting up guidelines for choosing the representing players, and organizations from other countries will be following those guidelines as well. From marketing to actually creating such guidelines, KeSPA will be working closely with the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee to prepare for AG 2022.


The LCK also adjusted their schedule to account for AG 2022. In order to give more time to the players to rest, round 2 of the LCK regular split is usually four days a week. However, in order for the AG 2022 regional qualifiers to not collide with the yearly schedule of the LCK teams, both round 1 and 2 of the 2022 LCK Spring split were held five days a week.

Image via DWG KIA


On Mar. 25, it was announced that the athletic director for DWG KIA, Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun, was appointed as the head coach for Team Korea’s LoL roster. A recent report by Kookmin Ilbo’s Yoon Min-sup stated that 10 player candidates have been chosen:


  • Top lane: Choi "Zeus" Woo-je and Kim "Kiin" Gi-in 
  • Jungle: Moon "Oner" Hyeon-joon and Kim "Canyon" Geon-bu
  • Mid lane: Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon and Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok
  • Bot lane: Lee "Gumayusi" Min-hyeong and Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk
  • Support: Ryu "Keria" Min-seok and Cho "BeryL" Geon-hee

As the qualifiers approach, the line-up will be shortlisted to a total of six players: starting five plus one sub.

Military exemption 

Cho "Maru" Seong-ju, the SC2 player who won the gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games


Conscription in South Korea has existed since 1957, requiring all male citizens between the age of 18 and 35 to spend a 1.5 years in the military. However, starting in the 1970s, the South Korean government gave exemptions for international athletic achievements, such any medals in the Olympics, or gold medals in the Asian Games. Such individuals will only have to complete four weeks of basic military training, which allows them to continue on with their careers, as long as they do so for a minimum of 42 months. Conscription can be delayed up until the age of 28, but most Korean males who serve in the military tend to serve in their early 20s.


Military exemption has always been a widely-discussed issue in Korea, especially when it came to well-known people like celebrities and politicians. Currently, there’s a heated debate in Korea on whether or not international K-pop stars, BTS, should get military exemption for their international success and recognition.


Kim “Khan” Dong-ha had to retire from pro play this year due to being unable to delay his military service any further. However, the inclusion of esports in AG 2022 also marks the first year where esports athletes could become eligible for military exemption. For the players looking for longevity in their esports careers, as well as for the fans supporting such players, winning the gold medal at AG 2022 looks to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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