Esports can be listed in the 2024 Olympic Games, Tony Estanguet, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and co-chair of the Paris bid committee, said in an interview with The Associated Press, he will discuss this possibility with the organizers of esports competitions and with the IOC.
Esport should be considered a full-fledged sport, Estanget believes: this is necessary in order for the Olympic Games to remain relevant for new generations. “We can’t say no right away,” he says. “Young people are interested in esports and things like that.” In 2024, the Games will be held in France, their program will begin to form in 2019.
Esports is an open competition between users of such well-known computer games as Counter-Strike, StarCraft, Dota 2, League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, World of Tanks, etc. The phenomenon is relatively new: although the first competition in the StarCraft game took place at the end of 1990 -x years, such tournaments began to gather a large audience only in recent years. Sports organizers and players earn money from sponsorship contracts, advertising, sale of broadcast rights, etc. According to Newzoo, in 2017, global esports revenues will grow by 41% to $ 696 million, of which $ 517 million will come from advertising and sales of rights, the rest is proceeds from ticket sales and branded products. Superdata estimates the market even more – at about $ 1 billion (see chart).
In Russia, esports was recognized as an official sports discipline this spring, that is, athletes will be able to receive sports titles and categories. This will allow in the future to hold competitions and championships of the country. It was in Russia that two esports deals, which are among the largest in the world, took place: in 2015, Alisher Usmanov’s USM Holdings invested more than $ 100 million in the organizer of e-sports tournaments Virtus.pro, and his partner Yuri Milner invested $ 26 million in Super Evil Megacorp. This company created Vainglory, a platform for esports competitions from around the world.
Cybersport is also gaining popularity among traditional media: competitions in this sport are broadcasted by cable channels – American, Russian, etc. Last year, the computer games competition was shown by the 2×2 TV channel; last week, Match TV announced the broadcast of the Dota 2 championship. The International 2017.
According to the Olympic Charter, the program for each specific Games is approved by the IOC. Only sports that accept and comply with the World Anti-Doping Code will be admitted to the program. Selects sports, determines the criteria and conditions for inclusion in the program of the IOC session no later than the choice of the city – the organizer of these Games. The decision to include a discipline or type of competition in the program is made by the IOC Executive Board no later than three years before the Olympic Games. The IOC Executive Board consists of 16 people, headed by IOC President Thomas Bach. There are no delegates from Russia in it.
“We expect that more and more young people will watch Match TV, therefore we continue to increase the volume of broadcasts of world-class cyber tournaments,” explained Tina Kandelaki, General Producer of Match TV. By 2019, the global audience of esports competitions will reach 303 million people, Superdata analysts predict. Most of the spectators of such competitions are men (85% of the audience), more than half of them are 18-25 years old.
World sports organizations are increasingly talking about the need to equate esports with traditional sports. In 2018, eSports will be included in the program of sports competitions of the Asian Olympic Games (they are held only in Asian countries in sports, like the main Olympic Games, and are supervised by the IOC competitions). On them, companies will test esports as a sport, and from 2022 it will be included in the main program. This means that Olympic medals will be awarded for winning esports. The organizers of the Asian Games explained their decision by the rapid growth and development of esports disciplines.
It will not be easy to add e-sports to the program of the Olympic Games due to the large number of technical nuances and diversified development of e-sports, says Roman Chernyavsky, editor-in-chief of the Game Show TV e-sports channel. As a rule, championships are held under the auspices of one of the developers of computer games or large esports organizations. For example, the Dota 2 publisher is holding a tournament with the largest prize pool in the industry – more than $ 24 million. It is not known whether the IOC will choose one, two or more games for the competition. Some games can be difficult for an unprepared viewer to perceive, warns Chernyavsky, perhaps the only exception is Counter-Strike, the rules of which will be clear to many.
There are difficulties with the selection of teams from different countries – for example, in the Russian project Virtus.pro, the Counter-Strike team consists entirely of Polish athletes, and the Virtus.pro Dota 2 team consists of Russian and Ukrainian players. But there is also a good Russian Counter-Strike team – Gambit, which won the World Championship this year, says Chernyavsky.
It is also not clear what requirements the IOC will impose on e-sportsmen. Now the team managers themselves make sure that cybersportsmen lead a healthy lifestyle and maintain a sports form – this is necessary to create an image of esports and break the stereotype that computer games are interesting only to people who do not take care of themselves, he says. But refusal from doping, which implies giving up the usual food and drinks, can discourage esports athletes from participating in the Olympic Games. On the other hand, there is already experience with sports organizations holding eSports tournaments, he says. For example, FIFA holds the World Championship in the computer game of the same name.
In the next 20 years, adding e-sports to Olympic sports is almost impossible, the founder of the gaming portal Kanobu Haji Makhtiyev is sure. The Olympic Committee is a fairly conservative body and it will need to be convinced that this sport will be relevant for many years and can generate stable advertising revenue, he notes: “The esports industry is very young and dynamically developing, but this may not be enough for the IOC. … They will scrutinize how many athletes are involved in the sport, how many countries are involved, etc. “