Asian Games Add Esports in Partnership with Chinese Giant Alibaba

League of Legends pro jungler Reignover image via Twitter

"By the time of the 19th Asian Games in 2022, however, e-sports will become an official medal sport - reflecting the rapid development and popularity of this new form of sports participation among the youth".

Asian Games organisers' decision to allow esports follows collaboration with Alisports, the sports arm of Chinese online retail giant Alibaba.

Last year, Alisports invested US$150 million in the International eSports Federation, a South Korean organisation that lobbied the International Olympic Committee to consider esports for the Olympics. A mobile game will also be included, but there is no confirmation of any game yet.

Besides the 2022 games, eSports will also be added to the 2017 Ashgabat Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.

Alongside Fifa 2017, gamers at AIMAG can expect to compete in MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) and RTA (real time attack) games. "We are sure that the extensive organising capabilities of Alisports, and their experience in e-sports, will assist the OCA in developing all sports", he added.

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Over 40 countries and nearly 10,000 athletes took part in the 2014 Games in Incheon, South Korea. There will be eight qualifiers from each region (two per game) and four Turkmenistan players, making it a 52-player field. The only question left now is the kind of games the OCA plans in bringing to the 2022 Asian games. It remains to be seen, but the idea is contentious, with many arguing that the increased profile from having esports as part of an olympic event is good for broader recognition, but could damage esports unique appeal.

According to the BBC, e-sports generated a revenue of $493 million in 2016 while attracting a global audience of 320 million.

Sheikh Ahmad said there were more than 350 million people playing e-sports around Asia.

Citing global research firm Newzoo, esports revenues reached $463 million past year, with expectations of sales to reach $1.1 billion worldwide by 2019.

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