Olympic Esports Series Brings Video Gaming to the Biggest Stage

  • The Olympic Esports Series will host its final in Singapore in June
  • Finalists will be chosen to complete in nine games in total
  • Many esports followers have taken issue with the selected games
  • The esports market is growing fast and has over 540m worldwide viewers
Person hoisting trophy at esports competition
The Olympics Esports Series will bring gaming to the biggest international athletics competition in the world. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Olympic esports series coming in 2023

Just Dance? How about just win. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Wednesday details of the Olympic Esports Series 2023 in which competitors will challenge for medals in different game titles.

The competition was created in collaboration with international federations and game developers. Qualification rounds began Wednesday and will determine who advances to the Olympic Esports Final in Singapore June 22-25.

over 250,000 players from 100 countries

The esports series comes after the committee saw success in 2021’s Olympic Virtual Series ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Over 250,000 players from 100 countries took part.

Issues with game selection

This year will be the first in which players will compete in person during the final round and for the gold medal. The finals will be streamed on the Olympic Channel and across the Olympics’ social media platforms. 

Every game included in the Olympic Esports Series lineup is based on a traditional sport. So, popular esports games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will not be part of the lineup.

All of the sports and games below will be featured during qualifying rounds and at the Singapore event:

  • Archery: (Tic Tac Bow)
  • Chess: (Chess.com)
  • Cycling: (Zwift)
  • Dance: (JustDance)
  • Motorsport: (Gran Turismo)
  • Sailing: (Virtual Regatta)
  • Taekwondo: (Virtual Taekwondo)
  • Tennis: (Tennis Clash)

titles chosen reflect the history of the Olympics, but not that of what esports has grown into

The game lineup has resulted in an outcry from the esports community. Their main gripe is that the titles chosen reflect the history of the Olympics, but not that of what esports has grown into today.

There is also the peculiarity of seeing a game like JustDance upgraded from the arcade floor to a branch of the most prestigious athletics competition in the world. That and the fact that many of the games are just dulled-down versions of the sports that will be played at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France.

Esports continues to grow

There is officially no more denying the growing momentum of esports across the globe. Here are some quick statistics on just how popular esports is:

  • Over two billion people are aware of what esports is.
  • The esports market is valued at $1.44bn.
  • There are over 540m esports viewers worldwide.
  • Team SoloMid (TSM) is the most valuable esports organization with an estimated value of $540m.
  • Over 63% of American respondents to a Juniper Research poll aged 17 or under said their interest in esports has increased since the pandemic’s inception.
  • Absolute Reports Pvt Ltd estimates the global esports betting market size will reach $24bn by 2028.

Esports have also begun following a more traditional route for sports, at least in America. 

The Call of Duty League (CDL) was created in 2019 during the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare game cycle and all 12 teams in the league were franchised. So, instead of organizations like TSM showing up at events (although TSM is not in the CDL), teams with names more common in American sports such as Atlanta FaZe, OpTic Texas, and Seattle Surge were present.

Streaming platform Twitch has also been instrumental in the growth of esports since creators can promote their high-level live gameplay while showing off their personalities and engaging with a community.

The rapid increase in viewership and participation in esports has also led regulators to consider the future of their betting markets. 

Esports betting is fully legal in Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee, and West Virginia. It is regulated, meaning that it is available in some but not all shapes and forms, in Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

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