The 19th Asian Games finally opened in Hangzhou this past Saturday, delayed by a year due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2022. But the extended wait is not the only reason that some fans and athletes were particularly looking forward to this year’s edition of the Games: for the first time ever, esports have full medal status.
Esports were featured as a demonstration event at the previous Asian Games, held in Jakarta and Palembang in 2018. This time around, teams from around the continent are facing off against in each other in Arena of Valor, EA Sports FC Online (formerly known as FIFA Online 4), Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, League of Legends, Dream Three Kingdoms 2, Peace Elite (also known as PUBG), and DOTA2. Hotly tipped competitors include host nation China, powerhouse South Korea, and Thailand.
China had a strong showing on the first day of esports events on Sunday, with player Liu Jiacheng eliminating India’s Charan Jot Singh in FC Online, and the Chinese team defeating Myanmar in the Arena of Valor quarterfinals.
Already well-established in Asia and growing quickly in North America, esports are set to be one of the best-attended events at the Asian Games. Demand for tickets is so high that they are being sold via lottery, and almost every esports session is expected to sell out
“Asian esports has become a thriving industry, unleashing enormous potential and connecting people from different backgrounds, cultures, and countries,” Asian Esports Federation president Huo Qigang commented.
Image via Hangzhou Asian Games
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