Like any major industry, the video gaming world generates plenty of talking points these days. For instance, recent trends that have attracted plenty of attention include the rise of innovations like augmented reality and the huge success of mobile gaming.

However, another issue that is regularly up for discussion relates to eSports and whether it will ever become an Olympic sport. Now, some fresh developments have hinted at a growing relationship between competitive gaming and one of the sport’s biggest events.

Intel World Open

Intel recently confirmed that it is holding a major eSports event ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The organization, which is the official eSports event partner for the Olympics, said the Intel World Open would include both Street Fighter V: Champion Edition and Rocket League.

The announcement detailed how people could get involved by taking part in online Open Qualifiers, with the top players then competing in further qualifiers ahead of regional finals. Total prize pools of $250,000 have been set aside for the regional finals of both Street Fighter V: Champion Edition and Rocket League.

Marcus Kennedy, general manager of the gaming and eSports division at Intel, said the Intel World Open would deliver “a pinnacle tournament on the world’s biggest sports stage”. He added that Intel was committed to “raising the stakes” in relation to eSports.

Olympic Virtual Series

News of the event has come just weeks after there was another major announcement linked to the Olympics and the exciting world of eSports. At the end of April, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed it was planning the first Olympic Virtual Series.

Under the plans, the organization revealed it is partnering with sports federations and games publishers to create the first “Olympic-licensed event for physical and non-physical virtual sports”. The World Baseball Softball Confederation is involved with eBaseball Powerful Pro Baseball 2020 from Konami, while UCI is linked to Zwift. Elsewhere, World Rowing is embracing an Open format, while World Sailing and the FIA are joining with Virtual Regatta and Gran Turismo respectively.

The IOC added that the series would let people compete from either their homes or training facilities as the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics begins. Fans will also be able to monitor the latest activity around the events via the Olympic Channel.

A Real Powerhouse

Both developments suggest that the bond between eSports and the Olympics is growing stronger and, of course, it could be argued that this makes sense in the current climate. After all, the eSports world is seemingly going from strength to strength right now, with it attracting many fans and generating huge sums of money.

According to figures published by Newzoo in March, global eSports revenues will hit $1,084 million in 2021, with that representing year-on-year growth of 14.5 percent. It is also edging ever closer to being regarded in the same light as traditional sports, thanks to the creation of purpose-built venues like the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles. eSports even has its own betting scene, with brands offering odds on the latest action. Rivalry is a good example of how this area has grown, as it features wagering information for Dota 2 betting and other major games. The fact that this betting site is a member of the eSports Integrity Coalition clearly demonstrates both eSport’s legitimacy and the enthusiasm of the fans.

In fact, it is now undeniable that eSports is now a real powerhouse, and the sheer size of the industry means it is understandably attracting attention. The skills and qualities needed to thrive in eSports appear to be more respected than ever before and some would argue that now is the time for them to be recognized at the Olympic level.

A Crucial Moment

All in all, it feels like we are stood at a crucial moment when it comes to the relationship between the Olympics and eSports.

It will be interesting to see how the events ahead of Tokyo go and whether they ultimately prove to be a hit with fans all over the globe. The Olympics is one of the biggest stages in the world and it may soon be time for eSports to join the party.



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