The game choices for the Olympic Esports event appear to have been chosen by someone with no idea what esports are.
The First Ever Olympic Esports Week Games Are Utterly Bizarre and Baffling
As anyone who has piled in the hours will attest to, professional DOTA 2 ain't no joke. It's been lauded as one of the hardest games to master for eons, with top players absolutely dominating the list of the highest earners in esports. But the International Olympic Committee couldn't care less, having seemingly decided that in order to witness the most skillful "esports" players alive, we need look no further than the month-old Tic Tac Bow in the first-ever Olympic Esports Week.
The debate over whether esports should be included in the Olympics has been raging for about as long as esports has been a thing. And it looks like, after years of headway, those on the side of making esports an Olympic category are finally getting their wish in 2023 with Olympic Esports Week. And never has the phrase "be careful what you wish for" been more apt.
In a baffling move from the IOC, instead of turning to the industry's most famously competitive and skill-based games - the ones that draw crowds to rival even the biggest global IRL sports tournaments, and whose top players have earned millions for their unparalleled prowess - the Olympics will instead play host to an allegedly pay-to-win mobile games, Just Dance, and a sailing game.
It seems that the International Olympic Committee has taken a different approach to the term "esports" than most gamers. Instead of hosting games like DOTA 2 and League of Legends, it has instead paired video games with Olympic sports. The complete list is as follows:
Archery: Tic Tac Bow
Baseball: WBSC eBASEBALL: POWER PROS
Dance: Just Dance
Motor Sport: Gran Turismo
Sailing: Virtual Regatta
Taekwondo: Virtual Taekwondo
Tennis: Tennis Clash
To be fair, at least Gran Turismo and Chess.com have an established "esports" presence. But Tennis Clash is a game accused of including pay-to-win mechanics that seems particularly out of place. If this is the standard the IOC is keeping to, then they might as well have picked Mario Tennis and at least made the spectacle enjoyable.
We can hope that this first attempt at bringing Olympic Esports is just a tongue-in-cheek teaser, and that a more serious inclusion of competitive games is still a possibility. If not, we'll be left wondering if something a bit fishy hasn't gone on behind the scenes. But for now, we can at least enjoy a Gran Turismo competition from June 22nd - 25th.