For esports, transitioning into the traditional sporting realm has been occasionally met with friction but in recent years, there appears to be an acceptance that gaming is now very much part of the international sporting landscape.
The growth in popularity of sites accepting bets on esports has been astronomical, with decision makers and sport’s governing bodies beginning to see the value and potential in esports from a commercial and consumption perspective.
Technological advancements in the world around us have contributed to the success of esports too, with coverage, betting markets and fan engagement within the world of esports now bigger than many other sports out there on the market.
With such a see change in the offing, pressure has long been on both the International Olympic Committee and the Commonwealth Games to look into the emerging sports markets, as they attempt to make the competition offered to athletes more relevant to the viewing public and the participants.
The actual process of adding a new sport to either the Commonwealth Games or Olympics is arduous, with sports firstly having to detail their ‘bid’ to participate at the games.
Once this stage has been passed, the respective committee will decide as to which sports can be trialled at a pilot event.
From here, if a sport gets through the pilot event stage, they will then showcase a test event at the next games – to allow fans to become familiar with the workings of a given sport in a Commonwealth Games or Olympic setting.
The next step is for the chosen sport to be fully sanctioned by the respective governing body and from here medals can be awarded and the sport becomes Bonafede within its sporting setup.
As the latest sport to be given a pilot event at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK in 2022, esports now looks better placed than ever to fight its way into the traditional sporting space and international interest in esports and the athletes/gamers taking part is sure to reach new heights.
According to the aforementioned timescale against which a sport is chosen for the Commonwealth Games, esports will be running a pilot event in Birmingham later this year, with a test event likely to take place in 2026, where Melbourne, Australia are the current favourites to host the games.
From there, Hamilton in Canada are the hot favourites to play host in 2030, where it is expected by that time esports will be at the forefront of both mainstream and event sport consumption.
Inevitably, traditionalists in the world of the Commonwealth Games are sceptical at the relative lack of physicality required in the world of esports but it has proven itself to stand up to the sceptics and its emergence within the modern day market only strengthens its bid to become a Commonwealth Games event.
Fan popularity is sure to be considered too and with sell out crowds expected in Birmingham for all of the esports test events, the atmosphere is sure to be electric as the best gamers in the Commonwealth go head to head.
There is one key question that remains…
If the esports pilot event is as successful as many expect it to be, how long will it be before esports becomes an Olympic sport.
Something to keep an eye on with Paris 2024, Los Angeles 2028, and Brisbane 2032 very much on the horizon.