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In China, Esports a sport or not?

By INQUIRER, editing by Yutang Sports Tuesday, 26 May 2015 17:30

Esports — competitive videogame tournaments — is slowly making its way into mainstream consciousness. So much so that it caught the attention of companies like Amazon who acquired Twitch for nearly $1 billion and ESPN who ventured into broadcasting videogame tournaments.

ESPN broadcasted the coverage on The International (Dota 2) pre-show last 2014 on their website and Heroes of the Dorm (Heroes of the Storm) on ESPN 2.

With all these progressions in Esports industry, there is a topic of discussion among fellow Esports fans and skeptics that rose with it: should Esports should be considered as a sport?

If Esports will be considered as a sport, it becomes easier for it to achieve stability and governmental recognition. This is important as an emerging industry, there are many issues that arise from the informality of the industry that are hampering its overall growth.

Since eSports, or any virtual-related subject, is still finding its way into the law there is no proper jurisprudence that can cover important industry issues. eSports needs to experience the same legal benefits as sports such as the grant of an Athlete’s Visa for players competing in the international scene like the Olympics or the World Cup.

Visa rejection has been one of the main problems of professional eSports players. Many teams have been denied the chance to compete at prestigious offline events throughout the years. Chinese teams, Invictus Gaming and CDEC, were denied their visas which prevented them from travelling to Kiev, Ukraine to compete in Starladder XI.

Not only does denying their visas violates their right to travel, it limits their opportunity to thrive in their craft and profit more especially with the huge prize money being given away to the victors in international tournaments.

Esports needs a strong foundation that can supervise its changes and developments. It would be safe to say that it is easier to work on the acceptance of Esports as a sport rather than to work on the acceptance of Esports as Esports. Written law undergoes a lot of process to be changed and it takes years of discussions and paperworks in order for something to be fully acknowledged by the law.

In China, Esports has been defined and registered by General Administration of Sport of China as a sport in 2013. Although people’s opinions varied, it was unchangeable fact that Esports acquired much attention and popularity in domestic market.

Almost by design, Esports experiences an oversaturation of tournaments, across the many titles that hold competitive events. The frictionless quality of having a competitive platform operated primarily from the internet has also allowed for a multiplicity of event organizers to offer up events for a new batch of players to continually enter and compete in to gain access into the industry.

But because of this, the entire infrastructure of the tournament scene tends to be top-heavy for the players. The best performing teams — the winners — win big, while in some tournaments, finishing in second place may not even be enough to make a decent living.

From this perspective, the player’s rights in the face of a massively informal tournament structure may need the help of regulatory boards and an organization that can maintain order in Esports. Oversaturation of tournaments and player re-shuffling can also be resolved more efficiently.

Maybe what Esports needs is to evolve into something not dependent on the term ‘sports’. Give it a few more years and Esports will have its own identity. For now, the question remains: why can’t Esports be a sport?

Tags: eSports


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