Does esport really need the Olympics?

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A demonstration of esports at the 2018 Asian Games / AFP / Archives

A demonstration of esports at the 2018 Asian Games / AFP / Archives

The entry of the esport to the Olympics seems to be a thing of the past, but the mad growth of the discipline raises the question: does the esport really need the Olympics?

"The NBA has never needed the International Olympic Committee to become the biggest basketball league in the world," said Maurizio Barbieri, head of Twitter's sports partnerships in Southeast Asia, at Sportel Asia held last week in Macao.

Barbieri goes even further wondering if it is not the Games that will one day need the esport, and not the other way around. "I think it would be wonderful for the Olympics to put the esport on their program, because it would allow them to attract the attention of a new audience that might otherwise be turned away," he said. he.

The video game competitions will not be registered in a program of the Olympic Games before the 2028 edition in Los Angeles, having seen their candidacy for those of 2024 that will be held in Paris rejected in favor of breakdance, skateboarding, surfing or climbing.

Ignoring a hypothetical one day registration at the Games, the craze for this discipline continues to grow each day more.

Especially in Southeast Asia, so much so that it has become the No. 1 sport in South Korea, where this discipline has even gone beyond pure competition to become a social phenomenon with professional players raised in the South. rank of stars. Esport will be a separate discipline in the Asian Games of 2022 in China.

And the sponsors are investing more and more in the sector, whose expansion seems inexorable. The American sports equipment giant Nike has announced in late February the signing of a contract with the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) in China, a national championship gathering sixteen teams.

– "The revenge of the gamers" –

As a result of this four-year contract, the LPL players will wear jerseys and tracksuits entirely designed and flocked by the mark at the comma.

"It's been two or three years since the esport made its debut in the mainstream culture (…) but the announcement of Nike has caused a huge boost of enthusiasm from our fans, and the buzz it generated surprised everyone, "said Philip So, the boss of League of Legends, one of the main video games created by the Rio Games development studio.

Video game enthusiasts are now proud to identify themselves as "gamers", he added, pointing out that the development of esport had come from the grassroots. "It's a total paradigm shift – it's a bit of gamer revenge."

Europe has followed suit with Asia and Adidas, Mercedes and BMW are now part of major companies in the Old Continent to have entered the dance.

The American fast food giant, McDonald, has dropped his partnership with the German national football team to focus on the esport.

And according to a note from the US investment bank Goldman Sachs last October, the esport will reach 300 million viewers in 2022, an audience comparable to that of the NFL, the professional football league.

What ensure a golden future, with or without the Olympics.

afp