For the second time ever, Esports will be included as a medal sport in the 2021 Southeast Asian Games (SEA). The decision to include Esports titles in the 31st SEA Games was made by the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. The first inclusion of Esports in the SEA Games was in 2019, where six Esports medals were handed out. This time, ten medals will be available across eight Esports titles.
Eleven countries across Southeast Asia will be represented in the tournaments. The event will kick-off on November 21, 2021, at the National Convention Centre in Hanoi, Vietnam. It is scheduled to last through to December 2, 2021. The announcement and schedule were made public via the official Vietnam Electronic Sports and Entertainment Association (VIRESA) website.
Approved Esports Games for SEA 2021:
- Arena of Valor (Mobile)
- CrossFire (PC)
- FIFA Online 4 (PC)
- Free Fire (Mobile)
- League of Legends (PC)
- League of Legends: Wild Rift – Men (Mobile)
- League of Legends: Wild Rift – Women (Mobile)
- Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (Mobile)
- PUBG Mobile – Individual (Mobile)
- PUBG Mobile – Team (Mobile)
The League of Legends: Wild Rift is the only gender-specific title; all others are mixed.
2019 was a historic year for the Esports industry as the SEA Games was the first event to host eSports competitions and give out medals, which was approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Typically, the SEA Games is under the regulation of the Southeast Asian Games Federation. However, the IOC and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) play a supervisory role in all of these games.
The Future of Esports in the Olympics
Interest has been shown by the IOC towards incorporating Esports as a medal event into the Olympics. To that effect, it has set up an Esports committee and is also monitoring the SEA Games closely to see how best Esports can be included in the Olympics in the future. However, whether Esports is incorporated in the Olympics or not, it is clear that most of the titles in the SEA Games will not make it to the global stage. The Olympics has maintained over time that it is not in support of “violent” video games, and will only consider titles that simulate real sports scenarios. The next Olympic Games will hold sometime this year. It was originally scheduled for 2019 in Tokyo, but the global pandemic resulted in its delay and postponement.
It has been revealed that Razer was the main lobbying force behind the inclusion of Esports titles in the SEA Games. Razer was the official Esports sponsor in the 30th SEA Games and has also stated its intention to steer the Esports ship in the 31st SEA Games.
The inclusion of more titles is great news for the industry, as it shows that the space is getting more recognition. In 2019, six titles including Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Arena of Valor, Dota 2, Starcraft 2, Tekken 7, and Hearthstone were included in the SEA Games that was held in the Philippines. One area that needs to change is the consistency of titles that are included in these games. With that settled, the Esports industry will be one step closer to having a solid foundation as a medal event in these games.