What should be a victory for esports has brought criticism from competitive gamers, as the genre’s biggest names are left out of competition
The Olympics announced its second-ever esports series last week, which means that in 2023, video games will be part of the world’s most revered sporting event. Players can sign up for qualifying rounds, some of which are already underway. The series will culminate in a live event in Singapore in June, part of the first Olympics esports week, where qualifiers will compete across nine virtual sports.
This should be a huge moment that the gaming and esports worlds would both be celebrating. Instead, esports professionals have been despairing over the games that have been included. Instead of selecting well-established esports titles – the kind played in stadiums and whose top players earn six- or seven-figure prizes – the Olympics esports series has picked ones based, sometimes loosely, on real-world sports. Instead of Dota 2, Counter-Strike, Hearthstone, Valorant or Overwatch, there will be a free-to-play archery game called Tic Tac Bow, Just Dance, the VR motion-tracking game Virtual Taekwondo, and Gran Turismo.