e-Sports crossing to the mainstream at Ashgabat 2017
Having made its appearance at an international, multi-discipline sports event for the very first time in the 2007 Indoor Asiad, electronic sports - or e-Sports, as it has become known — is being held at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games programme as a demonstration sport
One of the world’s fastest growing disciplines, e-Sports, is a form of professional competition facilitated by electronic systems including computers and game consoles. Usually taking the form of organised, multiplayer video game competitions, chiefly between professional players, e-Sports requires players to demonstrate not only extreme hand and eye coordination skills, but also a keen understanding of strategy. Like chess or car racing, e-Sports commands a serious passion, as well as a dedication for physical and mental training.
And, while success at e-Sports requires a great deal of physical dexterity, it’s no secret that video games are sometimes known as a sport of the mind.
The most common and popular e-Sports genres include fighting, first-person shooters (FPS), real-time strategy (RTS), multiplayer online battle arena games (MOBA), and card games, with the MOBA genre being the most popular in terms of participation and viewership.
The 2007 Asian Indoor Games was the first multi-sport competition to include e-Sports as an official medal-winning event, alongside other more traditional sports.
It has now returned to Ashgabat 2017 as a demonstration sport to be held over three days from 25–27 September at the Indoor Athletics Centre, within the Ashgabat Olympic Complex.
These unique video game competitions will be hosted by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and the Asian e-Sports Federation, with technology support from Alisports, the sports arm of the Chinese online retail giant, the Alibaba Group, owner of the South China Morning Post, and Duo Sport Group.
Dota 2 was chosen for the MOBA category at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. With the intense support of hundreds of thousands of active players worldwide every month, Dota 2 is currently one of the world’s most popular MOBAs and is considered to be both more complex and more difficult by the professional players compared to the majority of other games in the category.
The MOBA game will be joined by StarCraft II in the RTS category, Hearthstone in the Card Game category, and The King of Fighters XIV in the FPS category at Ashgabat 2017.
Over 350 million people are estimated to be playing e-Sports in Asia, ensuring that a huge following from the continent will be drawn towards the action in Ashgabat later this month.
A series of online qualification rounds in the four e-Sports games have been held at national and regional levels by the six concerned regions: West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, South East Asia and East Asia, plus Oceania. It means the very best players will qualify to join the top Turkmen players at Ashgabat 2017.
To reflect on the rapid development and growing popularity of this new form of sports participation among young people, the OCA has confirmed to include e-Sports as a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games.
This is certainly good news for millions of Asian eGamers, because it means that they will soon have the opportunity to share the podium with sprinters, gymnasts and other elite athletes for the first time in Asia’s top-level multi-sport competition.
Being confirmed as a medal-winning event at the 2022 Asian Games brings e-Sports one step closer to the Olympics. The organisation committee for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris has proposed to the International Olympic Committee and the various professional e-Sport organisations for embracing e-Sports for the 2024 Olympic Games, citing the need to include these elements to keep the Olympics relevant to younger generations.
Whether e-Sports will someday be included in the Olympics remains to be seen. But one thing is certain – the e-Sports world will keep an eye on the competition at Ashgabat 2017.
The introduction of e-Sports is one more element bringing excitement as the whole of Turkmenistan prepares for the biggest multi-sports Games ever to be held in Central Asia. From 17–27 September, more than 6,000 athletes and officials from 65 delegations will compete in 21 traditional Olympic, non-Olympic and Asian sports.
The Opening Ceremony will take place in the 45,000-seater Ashgabat Olympic Stadium on 17 September. For sports lovers of all types, including the most passionate e-Sports players, their fans and their followers, the country will warmly welcome everyone as participants or spectators.