A Rocket League tournament at the Olympic Games anyone? It may be closer than we think because the International Olympic Committee, Capcom, Psyonix, and Intel are teaming up to host an eSports event in the lead up to the Tokyo Summer Olympics next year.
— Yoshinori Ono (@Yoshi_OnoChin) September 11, 2019
The event, dubbed the Intel World Open, runs from July 22-24 and includes contests for two titles, which are Street Fighter V and Rocket League. The prize pool is nothing to scoff at either, tallying up to $500,000 total, spread evenly between both competitions.
Rocket League Punches Ticket to Tokyo Olympics
The Intel World Open is running online qualifiers in June next year for participating countries. Successful competitors earn a chance to feature among the national rosters attending the event.
Right now, we don’t know which countries have registered, but we imagine eSports powerhouses like South Korea, China, the US, and a smattering of European countries will jump at the opportunity.
Epic Games Partners With International Olympic Committee and Intel
Interestingly, Epic Games is partnering up with the International Olympic Committee and Intel for the event as well, which may signal intentions to implement the company’s flagship Fortnite title – arguably the world’s most popular game – into future iterations should the event go well and garner interest.
With Fortnite’s player base firmly entrenched in the younger tranche of gamer demographics, incorporating the game into the Olympics in some capacity could have positive effects on viewership, drawing those that haven’t necessarily grown up with a passion for sports in the traditional sense to the thrill of the Olympics.
It’s a win-win for everyone involved and could prove critical to the International Olympic Committee vetting eSports as a bonafide Olympic sport in years to come.
Lingering Concerns About eSports as a True ‘Sport’
There are concerns about qualifying eSports as an actual sport – the lack of perceived physicality posing a hurdle for many.
Does deft keyboard and mouse control equate to swimming a 100-meter butterfly? Probably not, but eSports athletes invest a similar number of hours into refining their craft, defining strategy, developing muscle memory, and acquiring a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the games they play.
To some, this places eSports on equal footing with traditional sports. In that sense, shouldn’t eSports deserve an International Olympic Committee-backed berth at the Games?