eSports is finally recognized by the Olympic National Committee


If you recall, a couple of weeks ago, a group of Sri Lankan eSports athletes made their way to Vietnam to take part in the Qualifiers for the 2018 Asian Games. The athletes would represent Sri Lanka in gaming titles such as League of Legends, StarCraft 2, Hearthstone, Clash Royale and Pro Evolution Soccer 18. They fought hard and proved themselves a worthy adversary.

Taking eSports to an Olympic level

Despite limited practice schedules and other obstacles, Sri Lanka is all set to be a part of the 2018 Asian Games, with Amruth “AmyPie” Alfred representing Sri Lanka playing Starcraft 2. Adding to this, the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka introduced eSports at the Olympic Day celebrations held in Nuwara Eliya on the 25th of June 2018.

eSports Olympics
The Olympic Day Run 2018, organized by the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka

Here, the three pillars of the Olympic day were explained to the participants. These are Move, Learn and Discover.

What is the Olympic Day?

In case you didn’t know, the Olympic Day is a global celebration of the founding of the International Olympic Committee and the modern Olympic Movement by Pierre de Coubertain in 1894. Here, people all over the world can learn about the Olympic games.

eSports Olympics
Olympic Day gives people the chance to learn about the Olympics. (Image Credits: Thomas & Trotman Design)

At the event, Maxwell De Silva, Secretary General of the NOC explained that Sri Lanka is “one of the few National Olympic Committees in the world to support eSports as we believe firmly that is the future”. With regard to the theme of the Olympic Day, the NOC has also come to the conclusions that the time is right to introduce this to schoolchildren as well.

Learning about the Pillars of the Olympic Day

As such, the Move aspect had more than 1,000 school students taking part in a 3-kilometer run. The Learn featured a workshop to educate school teachers on the fundamentals of gaming and eSports. Lastly, the Discover aspect covered students who actually learned about the new sport.

eSports Olympics
Raveen Wijayatilake, President of the Sri Lanka Esports Association (SLESA) speaking at the press conference held by the NOC for the Olympic Day celebrations. (Image Credits: Gamer LK)

At the press conference held at the Olympic Day, Raveen Wijayatilake, President of the Sri Lanka eSports Association (SLESA) addressed the gathering. Raveen gave a detailed background on what eSports is and how it has developed into one of the fastest growing sports across the world.

eSports is set to go big by 2022

According to a recently published report by Goldman Sachs, 167 Million people around the globe are likely to watch eSports per month for 2018. By 2022, that number could reach 300 million viewers. Just to put things into perspective, that’s on par with the viewership of NFL today.

The report went on to explain that audience growth for eSports would grow by around 14% for the next 5 years. For example, Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite announced a $100 Million prize pool for the first year of Fortnite tournaments. On the other side, we have Value with DOTA 2 and The International along with Blizzard’s Overwatch League as well.

eSports Olympics
Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite announced a $100 Million prize pool for the first year of Fortnite eSports tournaments. (Image Credits: Gamebyte)

All in all, things are certainly looking promising for the world of eSports. Using the Asian Games as a stepping stone, Sri Lanka too can gear up and produce eSports athletes who are on par with international eSports athletes. If things work out, we too may see more Sri Lankan teams taking part in international tournaments as well.