The 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham included esports competitions for the first time, although as a trial run. This is to test whether esports will be a part of the event in the future alongside traditional sports. Despite the competitive gaming tournament being a trial run for future events, players were clearly invested.
“This is for my country. This is my dream.” says Mohamad ‘Haikal’ Md Noh of the Malaysia eFootball League, who won gold at the event. “For five years, I’ve been waiting for this.”
20 commonwealth nations were represented by teams in the esports tournament for a total of 100 participants. Competitions were held for Rocket League, Dota2 and eFootball, with countries battling it out for the gold in each game. Overall, the trial run seems to be successful.
Speaking of persons in the commonwealth under the age of 30, Dame Loise Martin, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, told the BBC, “There are a lot of young people in that age group who don’t play sports per se, out in a playing field or something like that. But they are playing sports on a game console.”
“Going forward, this will be a sport within the Games – that’s my personal opinion,” Martin concluded.
The Popularity of Esports
It’s not surprising Commonwealth Games is testing the waters with esports considering the industry’s growing popularity. Famous traditional athletes are evening entering the realm of esports. Magic Johnson recently invested in esports league, SimWin, while David Beckham is now co-owner of Guild Esports. The industry is also joining the small screen with the new Paramount+ mockumentary, Players. The show follows the exploits of a fictitious League of Legends esports team.
The British Army even has an esports team that lost to civilians at the first Armed Forces Day Esports Competition. Additionally, Xbox is partnering with the Special Olympics for the second time to offer an inclusive esports event.