17th Dec2019

ESports Debut in SEA Games, But Olympics Remain Distant

by James Smith

The push for eSports to be considered mainstream got a major boost after making a debut in this year’s edition of the South East Asian (SEA) games. However, it still remains some long way before it acquires the more significant Olympic recognition.


The first eSports event took place in Manila, Philippines this week in a highly hyped showdown featuring gamers from different parts of the Asian continent. The gamers who wore matching sports gear and headphones sat in rows in-between newly launched state-of-the-art gaming equipment. This is the first time such an event has recognized competitive gaming and even gone further to enlist it into the medal categories. It is a big win for eSports after top betting brands embraced it and incorporated it into available markets. One good example is the Betway brand that has an eSports category among the Betway betgames on its official website and app.

Not yet time

As it stands, the Olympics steering committee remains adamant that it is not ready yet to include the “commercially driven” venture into its calendar. Given the amount of commercial publicity eSports is accorded, the Olympics stance does not seem to change any time soon.

The gaming hardware company facilitating the SEA games eSports events is Razer, under the stewardship of Min-Liang Tan, who believes that it is time countries got involved in the development of eSports competitions. He is calling out for full representation of the industry by people.

One of the gold medal hopefuls in the premier event will certainly be Nopparut Hempamorn from Thailand. At only 23, he is well experienced in the category since he started playing when he was only 12. Speaking to the Thai media in Manila before the event, the youngster emphasized on the need for official corporate and national sponsorships for up and coming players in the world at large. He felt that prospects should chip in already instead of waiting to gauge players based on their performances in international events such as the SEA games.

Another win for eSports?

While eSports was getting a cold bath from the Olympics steering committee, organizers of the 2022 Asian Games in China had announced that eSports would be a part of the event. However, it did not make the final cut in the final list of 37 sports disciplines to be contested in China. Either way, qualifying for consideration in such a major event is a massive win for eSports, and only indicates the seriousness in bringing it to the mainstream.

Eventually, eSports will break into major events, and besides the prize money won in commercial setups, there is the national pride to take. It is an event that would give the young generation a sense of attachment to their respective countries.

One of this year’s participants from Singapore, Marcus Lee talked of how honored he was to be taking part in the SEA games. According to Marcus, competing in the SEA games is quite different from the competitions where they compete for prize pools as it brings “glory and honor” to win a medal for his country.

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