First memories are important to everyone. This is also true in sports. When it comes to competitions, the term “first” can mean many things. That’s why the first “official” esports teams to compete at the Hangzhou Asian Games will be remembered for a long time.
Competing in four sports – FC Online, Street Fighter V, League of Legends, and Battlegrounds Mobile – the athletes had a sense of national duty. Feeling the pressure of the expectation of winning a medal, they prepared for the Asian Games by practicing until 3 a.m., when the practice rooms organized by the Korea Esports Association closed. And the results were great. Their hard work paid off.
Kwak Jun-hyuk and Park Ki-young of FC Online were among the first to compete in the Korean esports events. Although Park Ki-young failed to win a medal, he still managed to place fourth out of 36 players in a tough schedule that put him in the loser’s bracket. Kwak Jun-hyuk hung his head in disappointment that he didn’t win the gold medal he had hoped for, but took home a valuable bronze, the first medal for Korea at the Esports Asian Games.
Street Fighter V was a relatively unpopular game compared to other sports. As such, it was not expected to win a medal. Kim Kwan-woo and Yeon Jegil competed in the snowy conditions of this unpopular sport. Yeon was eliminated early on by the Taiwanese powerhouse, but Kim Kwan-woo, a miracle worker in his 40s, defeated all of his opponents to win the gold medal.
Also boasting the most popularity, and therefore the most pressure, was the Korean national team’s top five players, Seo Jin-hyuk, Jeong Ji-hoon, Lee Sang-hyuk, Park Jae-hyuk, and Ryu Min-seok. They also had to deal with China’s home advantage on the field, but they overcame all odds to bring home Korea’s second gold medal in esports.
Battlegrounds Mobile’s Kwon Soon-bin, Kim Sung-hyun, Kim Dong-hyun, Choi Young-jae, and Park Sang-chul started the day with medals in the previous events. The team practiced hard with little sleep and bounced back from a disappointing Road to the Asian Games (RDAG) to finish second and take home a prized silver medal.
With two gold, one silver, and one bronze medal, the 15 athletes across four events, along with their coaches, power analysts, and other support staff, have written themselves into the history books. But this beginning shouldn’t be the end.
Despite esports’ stellar performance at the Asian Games, there are still some skeptics. Many people still question whether esports is a sport. However, top esports star Lee “Faker” Sang-hyuk said, “If the process of playing and preparing for a game has a good impact on many people and inspires them to compete, I think that’s the most important meaning of a sport. In fact, many fans of traditional sports are passionate about this and cheer for their teams and players. In that sense, esports deserves to be called a sport.
And while it has been recognized in the Asian Games, it is still a long way off from becoming an Olympic sport. International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice President Ser Miang NG has said that the organization will not partner with any form of eSports that includes violence, which is contrary to the Olympic spirit.
While the IOC’s stance on the inclusion of esports as an official sport is still negative, the 2026 Aichi and Nagoya Asian Games will once again feature esports as an official sport. If this trend continues to the 2030 Doha and 2034 Riyadh Asian Games, there is plenty of room for esports to find its place in the Olympics. Among the existing sports, golf has been 토토사이트 excluded from the Olympic program since 1904, but it was included in the 2016 Rio Olympics based on its performance at the Asian Games.
In addition, there is a need to continue to work on esports-related events. While we should take the results of the Asian Games for what they are, we shouldn’t rest on our laurels and continue our efforts to raise awareness of esports and gaming. I hope that with such efforts, esports will be recognized by many people, and the achievements of the Asian Games will be remembered as the first step in a great history, not as a forgotten memory of ‘that time’ in the distant future.