According to this article from CNet, esports are on their way to the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in China. The article states that Alibaba's sports subsidiary, Alisports, has joined the Olympic Council of Asia to bring esports to the Asian Games next year in Indonesia as a "demonstration," and will be a medal sport by 2022. Since the Asian Games are recognized by the International Olympic Committee, however, it's argued that it is now technically possible to call esports an Olympic sport.
It comes off as a bit rash, to be honest. We imagine that, though the committee might recognize esports as viable, we still have a long road ahead of us before we actually get confirmation that it will be a part of the games in 2022. If the implications from CNet pan out, however, then the 2022 Winter Games could be the first time that esports livestreams bear a much heavier, international significance. But what games would be featured?
What game do you think will be the first video game to be played in the 2022 games in China? What will be the first "official" Olympic esport? We have a few ideas of what to expect...
League of Legends
League of Legends is the most-watched esport out there; the global audience is already poised and ready for the next level of competition. In a realm where prize-pools very regularly reach into the millions of dollars, and teams claim sponsorships worth hundreds of thousands, it seems perfectly logical to assume that the best League teams in the world may meet to compete for medals in 2022.
On the other hand, League of Legends is already a bit dated, and by the time the games roll around it will be 13 years old. Will it still be viable? On the other hand, people have been running for thousands of years and we still think it's exciting to watch, so there's that.
Street Fighter V seems like the most viable 1-on-1 esport at the moment. When you picture a gold medal being awarded, your mind automatically conjures the image of a single person standing on a high platform, does it not? What other single-player esports come to mind at the moment other than Street Fighter V?
Apart from being the obvious choice for lone competitors, Street Fighter V is also one of the most watchable games out there. Whatever games are chosen will be broadcast to viewers across the world on a massive scale, and Street Fighter V is likely to hold their attention because the action is easy to follow.
Here's another game with massive appeal if only because it's easy to watch. Everyone at one time or another has played some kind of first-person shooter. Even if you haven't ventured into the genre since your Goldeneye 007 days, you can appreciate fine aim and tactical use of your equipment. CS:GO also boasts some of the most recognizable teams in the industry, with die-hard fans. We think it could have a really impressive showing at the Olympics.
On the other hand, we're not sure that a video game that involves two teams of people shooting each other with guns would be tasteful enough for the Olympic Games. It's no big deal for cultures who grow up with video games as a staple form of entertainment, but it may be a nasty shock to many other people from many other places.
We can imagine certain games featured in a kind of speed-running competition. We're used to seeing headlines crop up whenever someone clears a record time playing through Ocarina of Time, Dark Souls, or Shovel Knight, so imagine how intense it would be to gather the most dedicated, talented, and disciplined speed-runners in the world and pit them against each other with some of the most recognizable modern and classic video games in the world.
I bet all kinds of world records would be broken, and then broken again by some no-name shmuck as soon as the games are over. Either way, we'll be entertained.
We keep going back and forth on Rocket League. While the game comes off as a little more "casual," it does have the potential to bring in huge audiences. It has a broad appeal, and it already boasts 30 million players.
It also has an incredibly high skill-ceiling once you start talking about highly-trained teams of three competing against each other. It's already surreal seeing the kind of teamwork and split-second communication that can occur at current levels ofplay. We're willing to bet that we'd see some incredible feats of teamwork at the Olympic level.