Just a few days ago, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made a prescient prediction about the promising future of eSports. This visionary leader, who is spearheading Saudi Arabia’s transformation into a hub for sporting growth, has recognized eSports as a pivotal element in his Saudi Vision 2030.
“Esports is among the most significant global phenomena, experiencing remarkable growth year by year, around 30 percent annually,” remarked the Crown Prince during a recent interview with Fox News. He pointed out that eSports and gaming are now vying for viewership alongside blockbuster Hollywood movies.
Indeed, the world of video games has substantiated the Crown Prince’s foresight by making a significant impact at the ongoing Asian Games in China. eSports has made its debut as a medal event at the Asian Games, a milestone seen as a major step towards potential inclusion in the Olympics. Renowned gamers like South Korea’s Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok are showcasing their skills on this prestigious platform.
Medals are at stake in seven gaming titles, including Arena of Valor, League of Legends, and EA Sports FC Online. The demand for eSports tickets, some priced as high as $137, has been nothing short of extraordinary. Enthusiastic fans have entered multiple lotteries, hoping for a chance to witness their gaming idols in action.
For those less fortunate in the ticket lottery, they’ve patiently waited outside the futuristic Hangzhou Esports Center, craning their necks for a glimpse of the official Games buses passing by. Highlighting the immense popularity of eSports, it’s the sole competition at the Games where tickets were initially distributed through an online lottery, before later becoming available for direct purchase.
With tickets reaching up to 1,000 yuan ($137), eSports has become one of the most premium and sought-after events at the Asian Games. Xu Kezhen, a 20-year-old fan in attendance, shared, “Securing tickets for this eSports competition was quite a challenge. I had to make five or six attempts before finally succeeding. Everyone is eager to support the Chinese team and their favorite players, leading to a rush for tickets and a display of unwavering support.”
Zhao Xiaohan, undeterred by the hassle and expense, diligently entered every possible lottery, ultimately securing a coveted spot to witness this historic event.