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Esports makes historic medal debut at Asian Games

Seven sets of medals will be offered in Esports’ first appearance as a medal sport at the Asian Games.

The world of online gaming has finally acquired the recognition it has long sought as this year’s Asian Games Hangzhou prepares to host Esports for the first time, with gold medals in play across seven top titles.

Holding a giant footprint in Asia, professional gamers will compete in Valor Asian Games Version, DOTA 2, Dream Three Kingdoms 2, League of Legends, Peace Elite Asian Games Version, Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, and EA Sports FC Online.

A total of 476 gamers from 30 National Olympic Committees will compete over nine days and 219 matches at the tournament.

According to the Olympic Federation, the rising tournament is expected to draw record crowds to watch the gamers in action. 

“Tickets to the Esports events, to be held at the China Hangzhou Esports Centre, have been sold through a ballot lottery due to its popularity. Nearly every session of Esports competition is expected to be a 5,000 sell-out,” the Olympic Federation highlighted

The presence of Esports as a full medal sport for the first time in Hangzhou comes after the inaugural Olympic Esports Series (OES) and following its demonstration sport at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia

Steered by the International Olympic Committee, the OES featured numerous virtual sports and video games, hosting 131 professional gamers from 57 nations. 

The competitive industry was valued at $1.45 billion in 2022 and projected to grow from $1.72 billion in 2023.

However, while questions have been raised about whether Esports is an actual sporting competition, several multinational gaming events have taken place in Asia, including several high-profile tournaments specifically in the Middle East

The MENA-3 (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Egypt) game’s revenue was $1.76 billion in 2021 and is expected to rise to $3.14 billion in 2025. 

Qatar recently signed on as a new party to the scene and hosted the Middle East’s first FIFA gaming tournament in the metaverse last year.

The first-of-its-kind tournament in the region hosted a total of 12 top EA Sports FIFA22 gamers in hopes of continuing to host more competitions in the future. 

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