Esports has had a hard time gaining traction on the sports scene, particularly here in the United States. ESPN’s showing of a DOTA 2 tournament was met with significant backlash back in 2015. This may be set to change however, as the Olympic Council of Asia has decided to introduce esports as a “demonstration sport” next year, and a medaled event in their 2022 Asian Games.
According to a statement released by the OCA, the decision to include esports reflects a “rapid development and popularity of this new form of sports.” In Japan, there have been talks to open up an “esports school” to train gamers, and state-side, the National Basketball Association is creating their own esports league for their NBA2K series.
As an industry, esports is worth roughly $450 million, and is expected to surpass $1 billion by 2019, with worldwide participation reaching almost 200 million people by the end of 2017. Could this mark a shift to seeing esports as a legitimate sport? While the International Olympics Committee has not confirmed esports as an Olympic event, it’s inclusion in the Asian Games is a solid first step to becoming one.