Esports Olympics Week: A Novel Concept or A Misstep?

Singapore Olympic Esports 2023
Olympic Esports will be held At Suntec Exhibition and Convention Centre, Singapore on June 23-25, 2023

The rise of eSports has been remarkable in recent years, with professional gaming gaining recognition as a competitive and lucrative industry. However, the industry has faced its fair share of skepticism from traditional sports enthusiasts who question whether playing video games can be considered a legitimate sport. Despite this skepticism, eSports has continued to grow exponentially, attracting a massive global audience and securing substantial sponsorship deals. eSports – the competitive gaming industry once derided as “not a real sport” – is now challenging the legitimacy of an Olympic-organized event, Olympics Esports Week. 

The Inaugural Event – A Clash between Traditional and Digital Sporting Worlds

The inaugural Olympics Esports Week is set to launch in Singapore, marking a significant moment for the recognition of eSports at an elite level. However, the event has stirred controversy among seasoned eSports stakeholders who question the choice of games included in the tournament.

Eschewing popular and well-established gaming titles, the event will showcase 10 simulated sports such as archery, baseball, chess, and taekwondo – digital recreations of real-world sports. Many in the eSports industry are puzzled by the decision to highlight these virtual sports rather than traditional eSports, that is, video games played at a competitive level.

Singapore Esports Olympics 2023
Olympic Esports will be held At Suntec Exhibition and Convention Centre, Singapore on June 23-25, 2023

Esports Games Selection

The eSports sector has enjoyed a phenomenal rise over the past decade, with video games like “Counter-Strike” and “DOTA 2” penetrating pop culture, social media, and attracting millions of online viewers. Removing this much awaited games and changing it into traditional-like virtual sports, disappoint millions of fans around the world. Matthew Woods from eSports marketing agency AFK and Malaysian professional eSports coach Khairul Azman Mohamad Sharif, among others, have voiced their concern, citing the list of games as unrepresentative of what eSports truly stands for.

Olympic Values’ and The Road to Inclusion

Amid the controversy, some solace is found in the inclusion of the globally popular game, “Fortnite”, albeit in a non-violent format, in line with the International Olympic Council (IOC)’s policy against featuring titles that contradict Olympic values. The IOC, which recognized eSports as a sport in 2017, has been engaging with industry players to deliberate its inclusion in the Olympic games.

The Future – An Olympic Horizon for eSports?

As eSports prepares to debut as a medal sport at the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, industry stakeholders remain optimistic. Chester King, the vice-president of the Global Esports Federation and CEO of British Esports, views the Singapore event as a crucial first step towards introducing popular video games to the Olympic roster. Bryan Tan, a partner at law firm Reed Smith specializing in eSports and media, sees the event as an essential testing ground.

Yet, navigating the intricate relationships with publishers of popular games remains a major challenge, with no concrete plans now for eSports to be included as medal events at the Olympics. As the eSports community waits with bated breath, all eyes are set on Singapore to see what sort of reception this inaugural event garners.

 

This is the list of games to be Played in the Singapore Olympic Esports Week on June 22-25

Friday 23 June – 10.30am to 10pm

Olympic Esports Series Finals

  • Cycling (UCI, Zwift) – 11am to 1pm
  • Archery (World Archery Federation, Tic Tac Bow) – 1.15pm to 3.15pm
  • Sailing (World Sailing, Virtual Regatta) – 5.30pm to 7.30pm
  • Dance (World DanceSport Federation, JustDance) – 7.45pm to 9.45pm

Saturday 24 June – 9.30am to 10pm

Olympic Esports Series Finals

  • Baseball (World Baseball Softball Confederation, WBSC eBASEBALL™: POWER PROS) – 11.45am to 1.45pm
  • Chess (International Chess Federation, Chess.com) – 3.15pm to 5.15pm
  • Tennis (International Tennis Federation, Tennis Clash) – 5.30pm to 7.30pm
  • Shooting (International Shooting Sport Federation, Fortnite) – 7.45pm to 9.45pm

Sunday 25 June – 9.30am to 8pm

Olympic Esports Series Finals

  • Motorsport (Federation Internationale Automobile, Gran Turismo) – 12pm to 1.30pm
  • Taekwondo (World Taekwondo, Virtual Taekwondo) – 3.30pm to 5.30pm

As well as the Olympic Esports Series 2023 Finals, expect to see some of the best players in the world compete in exhibition matches from some of the most popular esports and virtual sports titles.

Friday 23 June

Exhibition Match

  • Rocket League (Psyonix) – 3.30pm to 5.15pm

Saturday 24 June

Exhibition Match

  • Table Tennis (ITTF/WTT, ElevenVR) – 2pm to 3pm

Sunday 25 June

Exhibition Matches

  • Duathlon (Super League Triathlon & World Triathlon, Arena Games Triathlon) – 10am to 11.45am
  • Street Fighter (Capcom) – 1.45pm to 3.15pm
  • NBA2K (eFIBA, 2K Games) – 5.45pm to 7.30pm

 

Removing the usual games in Esports Tournament such as DOTA 2, CS:GO, Mobile Legends:Bang Bang and others made a huge impact to all gamers around the world, not only because that is what they use to watch, but because that is their passion as well. Though this Olympic Esports may be a stepping stone for new and more exciting development in the future, still many “gamers” had their eyebrow raise with this kind of format. 

 

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About Mathew Reynolds 100 Articles
Mathew Reynolds is a seasoned sports writer with over a decade of experience in the field. His commitment to factual, passionate, and in-depth sports journalism has earned her a loyal following of readers who value his unique perspective, extensive knowledge, and the genuine love he holds for the world of sports.