The 2020 Summer Olympics take place in Tokyo, Japan, and organizers proposed eight new sports, including baseball, softball, martial arts and bowling. Baseball is a great choice, considering some of the best international players made it to the MLB, such as New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and legend Ichiro Suzuki. The sport has global appeal, but bowling? We love knocking down pins and wearing funny shoes as much as the next person, but we have an even better suggestion for the 2020 Olympics, video games!
In Asia, thousands of people cram into stadiums to watch championships. The U.S. doesn’t have this level of fandom yet, but large crowds routinely show up to fighting game tournaments like EVO, while Twitch.tv lets fans view their favorite live streams on demand. Even sports giant ESPN occasionally broadcasts gaming competitions. The video games as sport debate is still in its infancy, but imagine where we’ll be five years from now. There’s a legitimate chance of it becoming a recognized sport, alongside chess and poker.
With this in mind, we created a short list of video games we feel deserve spots in the 2020 Olympics.
League of Legends
Riot Games’ free-to-play battle arena game is a big deal worldwide. Roughly 27 million people tuned in to watch the 2014 finals, where teams squared off to claim a $2 million prize pool. Oh, and the final match took place in Seoul World Cup Stadium, which seats 45,000. To put this in perspective, some NBA teams struggle to sell-out 18,000-seat arenas.
League pits two teams against each other. Both sides control Champions (characters with unique abilities) from a pool of more than 120. Each team attempts to destroy the other’s Champions and their Nexus, a protected building on the map. It is by far one of the biggest games in the esports community, and the competition is fierce enough where fans cannot wait to see who emerges victorious. That said, gold, silver and bronze medals would be a huge deal in the League community.
Similar to League of Legends, Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena game, otherwise known as a MOBA. In it, two teams of five players select from over 100 Heroes and then fall into two sides, the Radiant and the Dire. The ultimate goal is to destroy the other team’s Ancient building, and throughout the match, players gain valuable experience points in order to level up their characters and learn new abilities. Not only must they contend with rivals, but also non-player characters called neutrals; killing these NPCs results in gold, used to beef up stats or unlock more abilities through the in-game store.
In addition to being one of the biggest esports, the 2014 Dota 2 international tournament featured a record prize pool of $10.9 million!
Street Fighter 5
When it comes to fighting games, no franchise is bigger than Capcom’s hard-hitting juggernaut. Part 5 won’t debut until 2016, but early praise suggests it’ll become one of the best entries in the longstanding series. The fact that Street Fighter has such a long and celebrated history, backed by millions of fans around the globe makes it a top choice for the Olympics, while the balanced gameplay puts it above more chaotic fighters like Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Bottom line, we want to see the two best SF players (along with heroes Ryu and Chun-Li) throw down on sports’ grandest stage.
Do you agree with our picks? Which games would you most like to see in the 2020 Olympics? Starcraft 2? Counter-Strike? Halo? Let us know.