Looking at the latest developments of the global esports scene, the dream of becoming an official Olympic sport is no longer out of reach, especially with the new Intel Championship held in cooperation with the Olympic Committee
Today’s announcement unveiled the partnership of Intel, of PC hardware fame, with the International Olympic Committee “IOC”, in a new attempt to bring competitive video games to the global Olympics audience to be held next year in Tokyo.
The Tokyo Open will award winners a total prize pool of $500,000, and will be held from July 22 to 24, 2020, just prior to the official Summer Olympics. It will be shown live to the audience in order to introduce them to the competitive gaming field.
Because of this, Intel has chosen two easy-to-follow titles rather than games like League of Legends or Dota 2, as well as staying away from violent games like Counter-Strike, and those games were Rocket League and Street Fighter V.
Street Fighter has been chosen for its high popularity among the Japanese audience, while Rocket League is an enjoyable game with easy rules involving professional skills. Unfortunately, we will not be seeing more popular titles, but esports director Mark Subotnick has stressed that the priority is for the casual viewer who is not familiar with the world of video games at this Intel tournament.
With $250,000 each, Intel Olympic will be one of the largest tournaments for these two games and a great opportunity for professionals to earn valuable prizes. Speaking of professional players, the qualifiers will take place in 12 pre-selected countries in March next year, with four players selected to represent their country per team in this competition.
Participation will not be limited to the pre-selected countries, as further qualifiers will be conducted to select eight additional teams from around the world, bringing the total number of 20 teams to the semi-finals held in Katowice, Poland, where they will compete for seven final seats at the main event to challenge the Japanese national team.
Intel World Open is not the first attempt of its kind, as a similar event was held in collaboration with ESL with a competition for StarCraft 2 accompanying the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. However, it will be the first time an esports title has been shown to live olympic audience.
Although IOC has officially supported the tournament, it is not part of the official Olympic events. We will have to wait for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games to see the first officially recognized sporting event with gold medals awarded to the five winners of the competition.