Esports will now be fully included as a medal sport in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, the organizing committee of the host country, the Philippines, announced.
The announcement was made in a press conference held by the Philippines South East Asian Games Organizing Committee (PhilSGOC) in partnership with the Philippine Olympic Committee and gaming hardware company Razer on Wednesday in Pasay City.
The partnership aimed to elevate esports to a recognized medal sport at the SEA region’s vaunted biennial event.
Six gold medals for esports will be awarded and split across three gaming platforms — two for console, two for PC and two for mobile.
Only Mobile Legends: Bang Bang — a mobile MOBA game — has been confirmed as one of the esports titles included in the games as of the time of writing.
The other titles are expected to be finalized by December 15. According to the committee, the chosen games will have to conform to the values of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and “should not promote the culture of violence and gambling.”
The esport athletes for each participating country will be chosen through qualifying tournaments and there will be no direct invites for established esport athletes.
We can expect that titles such as Dota 2 and League of Legends, which both have established and thriving competitive scenes in both the host country and SEA as a whole, to be among those announced later.
“We are very thrilled, excited, and honored to have esports in the SEA Games with Razer as a partner. Gamers are an important part of our community,” said PhilSGOC chairman Alan Peter Cayetano.
Esports in the SEA Games has also been accredited by the Asian Electronic Sports Federation.
“This will bring aspiring esports athletes in Southeast Asia to the global stage,” said Razer Chief Strategy Officer Limeng Lee.
The co-founder and CEO of Razer, Min-Liang Tan, revealed in a Facebook post that he visited the Philippines earlier to meet with the PhilSGOC and encourage the inclusion of esports as one of the medal sports in the games.
PhilSGOC representatives will also be meeting with the SEA Games Federation Council when the latter visits the country this week to inspect the proposed venue in Clark, Pampanga.
Esports was already included in the recently-concluded 2018 Asian Games, albeit as a demonstration sport and not as a medal event. Now, many anticipate that the SEA Games will be a trial run for a potential esports event in the 2024 Paris Olympics.