eGames, the ‘Olympics for esports’ that currently lacks athletes
Nowadays, there remains a great discussion surrounding the participation of esports in the Olympic model, and it sounds good: an Olympic-style tournament featuring the most well-known titles across esports; the likes of League of Legends and Counter-Strike. It may also seem like a natural next step in mainstream recognition of eSports, just like Korea and China’s inclusion of League of Legends in the Asian Games of 2018.
But how have these experiments panned out? The example here is that of the eGames of 2016, an event that had the purpose of presenting the “eGame” movement to the wider, mainstream audience of the world through mainstream media in order to to promote videogame competition to the non-gamer sector of the population.
While countries like Britain, USA, Canada and Brazil announced participating teams for the event, little was said regarding details until weeks before the event, many of the mainstream figures within the space were questionably absent: one would think the representatives would be well known players and part of estabilished teams, with little space to doubt their abilities.
However, the opposite held true: Brazil’s example prevailed, as RED Canids owner and BRMA (the biggest esports event in Rio de Janeiro) organizer, Felippe Corradini, voiced his concern for the lack of contact from the countries’ representatives: “We are not involved. They didn’t contact us”. The same held true of INTZ, another esports giant from Brazil.
With no prize pool and only the glory of receiving a gold medal for a tournament that isn’t actually part of the Olympic Games, the likeliness of high profile players being present is pretty low.
In that sense, the ‘Olympics of esports’ experiment can be looked down upon as a big marketing event. There will be games and it will probably be in an Olympic format, but attracting players is something much bigger—and definitely more important.
eSports presence in the mainstream media has been a topic of conversation within the industry, and while the growth in reach has been moderate, yet steady, it doesn’t seem the mainstream world is yet ready to welcome esports as their own, from any regular household.