The Olympic Council of Asia has chosen the esports titles that will be represented at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. This September, representatives from 45 Asian countries and 19 countries in Oceania will compete in Dota 2, StarCraft 2, Hearthstone, and a yet-to-be-named FIFA or NBA sports game.
Esports at the 5th Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games
Deemed a demonstration sport, the presence of esports at the 5th Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan is in no small part the result of a recent partnership between the Olympic Council of Asia, a major organizer for AIMAG, and Alisports, a branch of Alibaba with heavy investments in esports.
According to a report from Inven Global, the list seems to explicitly exclude a few key things. For one, their choice of one MOBA, one RTS, one CCG, and one sports title completely neglects the FPS genre, with Counter Strike: Global Offensive holding third place among prize money awarded and hours of viewers watching on Twitch.
Riot’s League of Legends was represented at the 2013 Incheon Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, it has been left out this year, in favor of Valve’s Dota 2. Although Dota 2 players are number one in the prize winning ranks, League of Legends professional players earn a set salary in addition to their prize winnings. In addition, base of both players and viewers for League of Legends is arguable larger, although without transparency from both Riot and Valve, this can be hard to gauge.
Inven Global points out that one reason for the exclusion of League of Legends in favor of Dota 2 is competition between Alibaba Group, the parent company of Alisports, and Tencent Holdings, the parent company of Riot Games.
While the official announcement from the OCA is specific to AIMAG, Inven’s recent report, as well as several reports from the time of the partnership mention that esports will be present at the 18th Asian Games, to be held in Jakarta in 2018. But as of today, there are no esports titles on the OCA’s website for that event.