Chinese Internet conglomerate Alibaba has partnered with the Olympic Council of Asia to bring esports to the second largest multi-sports event in the world, reports OCASIA. The addition of esports to Olympic and other multi-sporting events has been on the cards for a number of years now, and finally teams will compete at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia and again in the 2022 Games in Hangzhou, China.
Alisports, the sporting division of Alibaba, was announced in 2015 with a focus on esports and other competitive games. CEO Zhang Dazhong and the OCA President Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah announced the new partnership yesterday at the 2018 launch ceremony. As mentioned above, the Asian games is an Olympic-recognized event and is the largest outside of the Olympics, meaning this is a major announcement for esports and the dreams of going mainstream.
“We look forward to further collaboration with Alisports in regards to digital sports concepts along with sporting events. We are sure that the extensive organising capabilities of Alisports, and their experience in e-sports, will assist the OCA in developing all sports.” – Al-Sabah said at the announcement.
This is great news for esports, but what does this mean for South Africa? Alibaba, and Alisports, is partnered with the International Esports Federation (IeSF) and that should be enough premise of where I’m going with this. It’s well known that our involvement in IeSF and other affiliated programs is dictated by the MSSA, which means our representation is often not as great as it should be. Taking nothing away from the teams and individuals who play for the South African team as I don’t doubt their dedication, but we all know our top teams boycott the MSSA events. This is a major boost for international esports, but locally we’re still miles away from being able to compete at tournaments like this if nothing changes with regard to our representation.
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