With India participating in four Esports titles at the upcoming Asian Games, this is a massive boost to enable the development of infrastructure, education programs, training facilities and awareness within the competitive video gaming ecosystem.
Esports has been officially designated as one of the medal sports in the 20th Asian Games Aichi-Nagoya 2026, as announced by the Aichi-Nagoya Asian Games Organizing Committee (AINAGOC). This exciting announcement highlights the inclusion of esports among the nine newly added sports for the upcoming games.
Esports is making its full-fledged debut as an official medal sport at the Asian Games 2022 in Hangzhou where India will be competing in four different titles - DOTA 2, FIFA 22, Street Fighter V and League of Legends from September 23 to October 8. The inclusion of Esports in the 20th Asian Games will undoubtedly serve as a great encouragement for Indian Esports athletes to pursue their passion professionally.
Lokesh Suji, Director of the Esports Federation of India (ESFI), and the Vice President of the Asian Esports Federation (AESF) expressed his excitement about the development by saying, "The decision and announcement by both the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and the Aichi-Nagoya Asian Games Organizing Committee (AINAGOC) to include esports as a medal event at the 20th Asian Games, subsequent to the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, is warmly embraced by ESFI. With this announcement, it becomes crucial for us to expedite the development of our infrastructure, education programs, training facilities, and overall awareness within the esports ecosystem. Additionally, it is imperative that we provide our athletes with top-notch equipment and resources, empowering them to deliver their best performances on international stages. We encourage the entire nation to embrace this remarkable development.”
He further added, “The inclusion of a wide array of titles in the Asian Games not only demonstrates the diverse nature of Esports but also highlights the various dimensions of skill, strategy, and teamwork exhibited by the athletes, delivering a comprehensive experience for spectators".
Competing at such prestigious platforms will not only provide India’s video-gaming community with opportunities to showcase their skills but also motivate them to win laurels for their country. This announcement is set to inspire a new generation of Indian Esports athletes to aim for greatness and make their nation proud on the international stage.
"The Esports industry and its passionate community have long been working towards gaining recognition, and the recent announcement clearly indicates the significant progress made by the esports ecosystem on international platforms. The official recognition of Esports as a medal sport further enhances and elevates the standing of esports athletes, placing them on par with mainstream sports personalities. We are optimistic that in the Asian Games 2026, our team, S8ul and 8bit, will have the opportunity to participate and showcase their skills in several esports titles. Moreover, this announcement solidifies the fact that both endemic and non-endemic brands are actively seeking avenues to engage with gamers today and are enthusiastic about investing in the Esports ecosystem," said Animesh Agarwal, Co-Founder and CEO of 8Bit Creatives & S8UL Esports.
According to the recent "Windows of Opportunity" report on India's Media and Entertainment industry by FICCI-EY, the number of Esports players across all competitive level games in India increased from 600,000 in 2021 to 1 million in 2022, and it is expected to reach 2.5 million in 2023. Moreover, the number of international Esports teams in India is expected to grow from 7 in 2022 to 10 in 2023.
“One small step for esports, one giant leap for the gaming industry! Esports' inclusion as a medal sport is not only good news in itself, but it also paves the way for other similar tournaments to recognize esports as an important avenue. I hope this trajectory continues upwards, and we are able to eventually see Esports at a scale similar to traditional sports,” said Rohit Agarwal, founder and director, Alpha Zegus.
Following the successful collaboration with the HAGOC for the upcoming 19th Asian Games, AESF, as the Asian Esports governing body, will continue its collaboration model with the AINAGOC and the local counterparts to ensure a successful Esports program at the 20th Asian Games.