Olympic Games? E-Sports Continue to Soar in Possibilities

eSports have grown exponentially in viewer numbers, revenue and world prevalence ever since the concept was first introduced in the 1970s. Whereas 2015 saw a total global audience of 235 million and revenues of $325 million, a skip forward just two years to 2017 depicts a larger picture of 385 million viewers and a revenue more than doubled, at $696 million. Meanwhile, a leap to the forecast for 2020 shows an audience level of 589 million and an astounding revenue of $1.488 billion. Consequently, the overwhelming evidence points to the fact that eSports is a global force to be reckoned with.

With the initiation of more and more video games into the world of eSports, eSports sponsorship deals and acquisitions of professional teams is also increasing. As one of the nominations for "Breakthrough Game of the Year 2017" by the Esports Industry Awards, Battlegrounds (released via Steam on March 23, 2017) has this year spawned the rise of Battlegrounds teams for numerous franchises, such as TSM's (Team SoloMid) announcement of their formation of a team on July 14, while Tempo Storm has acquired Pure RNG. 

Not only the number of teams, but the number of people aware of eSports around the world is also rising: 2015 featured 809 million people conscious of the existence of eSports, 2017 will see 1.28 billion, and 2019 is expected to have 1.57 billion. Such numbers will serve to be accentuated by the possible future addition of eSports as a medal sport at the Olympic Games.


Recently, it has become apparent that eSports could well become one of the newest future additions to the Olympics. Yes, you heard us: the Olympics! eSports is increasingly becoming recognised around the globe as an official sport, with Finland being the country to most recently class professional eSports players as athletes, under the Finnish Central Tax Board. Moreover, the Internal eGames Committee at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games introduced a two-day competition between teams from countries around the world, not as an official part of the Olympic Games but as a showcase event; however, since these exhibition experiences are often used to display upcoming events that the public can expect from future Olympic tournaments, it is not improbable that the spotlighting of eSports in Rio de Janeiro was because eSports was already being seriously considered as a potential new medal event.

The Olympic Games logo

What really turned the contemplation of eSports as a new Olympic sport for the Paris 2024 Games into a significant discussion for the IOC (International Olympic Committee) was the announcement in April 2017 that the OCA (Olympic Counsel of Asia) had made the decision to introduce eSports as fully fledged medal events in their 2022 Asian Games. Despite not having announced which video games they are considering including in their 2022 event, the Olympic Council of Asia has declared that the genres of video games for their 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) tournament will be MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), RTA (Real-Time Attack) and FIFA 17. The Asian Games stand as the second largest (after the Olympic Games) multi-sport tournament, with approximately 10,000 competitors taking part and representing 45 nations from across the Earth. As such, the influence of the state of the Asian Games upon the International Olympic Committee is one of great impact, which leads to hope that since the Olympic Counsel of Asia has adopted eSports, the International Olympic Committee will follow suit. Additionally, eSports will play a part in the Indonesian 2018 Asian Games, although without the distinction of being included as a medal tournament. However, these are likely to be utilized as an indicator for the International Olympic Committee as to whether to include eSports in the 2024 Olympic Games.

Paris has been announced as the city that will host the 2024 Olympics (the only other competitor running for the position, Los Angeles, are set to hold the 2028 Games instead), and, of the matter of the inclusion of eSports at the event, the Paris Bid Committee's co-President Tony Estanguet has revealed that, "I don't want to say 'no' from the beginning. I think it's interesting to interact with the IOC, with them, the eSports family, to better understand what the process is and why it is such a success."

It is clear that one of the major concerns of the International Olympics Committee, as well as the Paris Bid Committee, is to draw the attention of the younger generation to the Olympic Games. Tony Estanguet has also declared that, "The youth, yes they are interested in eSports and this kind of thing. Let's look at it. Let's meet them. Let's try if we can find some bridges." This intent of attracting more young viewers was also made clear at the years-old intention of introducing skateboarding and extreme adrenaline sports to the Olympic menu.

Plenty of sports have been incepted into the Olympic Games over the years: taekwondo was introduced at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 after its exhibition demonstration in the Seoul Games of 1988, while the International Olympic Committee have already approved five never-before-included sports for incorporation into the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, including baseball, sports climbing and surfing. All introduced sports have remained an integral part of the Olympic Games to the present day. Subsequently, it does not seem too much to hope that eSports may eventually make an appearance as a medal event in the future. We are set to find out the decision regarding eSports and the 2024 Paris Games in 2019-2020.


eSports betting is already an internationally huge market, with predictions for the eSports betting industry to rise to a worth of between $1.8 billion and $1.3 billion. With the introduction of eSports into the Olympic Games, it is highly likely that these figures will grow considerably, in light of the far-reaching effects of the Olympics due to an average audience of 27.5 million people tuning into the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, along with the fact that the broadcasts are made widely available to watch globally. 

Although no video game titles have as of yet been announced as contenders for a sport in the Olympics, it is plausible that to begin with one of the most popular eSports would be selected in order to insure as successful viewer numbers as possible, such as League of Legends, Dota 2 or Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). Following these games, however, would surely come some of the biggest teams in eSports: Fnatic, Cloud9, TSM, SKT, CLG, Immortals, FlyQuest and G2, to name but a few. One of the concerns with this, however, is that the Olympic teams are determined by geographical location, giving South Korea an excellent head start if eSports were to be introduced to the Olympics. South Korean professional players are renowned for their video gaming prowess, so much so that in 2015 their win rate in the League of Legends World Championship against foreign teams was 24-3. 

However, although this would make South Korea the most reliable choice to bet on in Olympic eSports, the very fact act of making eSports into an Olympic medal sport may encourage a higher percentage of new players to emerge throughout the rest of the world, forming new exciting teams for each country and resulting in a battle to remember - in which betting on the victor, cheering on your favourite teams and experiencing the twists and turns of matches couldn't be more exciting!