- IOC approves and launches the Olympic Virtual Series starting today with several mainstream competitions featured
- Many athletes have expressed support for the e-format and there have been successful examples of transitioning form physical to virtual competitions already
- This is only the first step to something much bigger say some of the participants in the OVS
After years of debates, the Olympic Virtual Series (OVS) will debut as part of the Olympic Games this year and a step towards the bigger adoption of competitive video gaming.
International Olympic Committee Okays More Esports Competitions
Slowly but steadily, this is the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) strategy when it comes to competitive video gaming, a topic that has, for the longest time, divided the world’s sports elite.
Nevertheless, the Olympic Virtual Series (OVS) are kicking off today, and they will feature numerous game simulations across baseball, cycling, motorsport, rowing and sailing, all played virtually, paving the way for more competitive titles from what we would describe as the mainstay of esports, with titles such as Dota 2, League of Legends, Valorant and many more.
Esports is driving a wedge between mainstream sports bodies who have not recognized esports as a traditional sport, despite ample proof to support the claim in various studies. The Olympic Agenda, though, is clear on what it wants to achieve by further engaging with video gaming communities globally.
The number of players and esports fans has been mounting exponentially, and so have the prize pools that have reached the eye-watering $40 million for this year’s Dota 2 The International 10. Commenting on this decision, e-sailing expert and commentator Thomas Bjørn-Lüthi said that this formal approval is the first small step to a bigger strategic path.
In fact, the opposition against gaming not being a sport is diminishing as more evidence surfaces that to reach the top tiers of any game you must develop training routines, deftness, endurance and concentration that are demanded in no smaller stores from esports players than they are from a professional athlete. The OVS is just another medium where the importance and depth of skill of competitive video gaming can be demonstrated.
Esports Prove an Equitable Training and Competitive Ground
While the main event is bogged down in some controversy, stemming from risks about health and the fairness of competition as not all athletes can train adequately, the OVS proves an interesting refresher and a focal point for gamers to rally around. In fact, IOC is convinced that the challenges that the physical world presents can be overcome in the context of video gaming environments.
Natsuki Matsuura, a 39-year-old sailor who has found a new love for e-sailing is going to gladly joint the OVS and demonstrate his skills. “The e-sailing community is growing due to the tailwind of Covid-19,” Matsuura believes. Konami Holdings Corp. will be pitching in with a dedicated baseball game, but there is much room for improvement.
EA Games, for example, could gladly provide simulation environments for soccer, baseball, hockey, and even football. As to racing simulators, NASCAR eSeries has been one of the most successful transitions from physical sports to their digital alter egos. Now, the Olympic Games have an important role to play to show the rest of the world that esports do have a place at the highest tier of sports.
While traditional sports are catching up, esports will be developing quickly.