Qualifiers for esports at the Asian Games are underway... and shrouded in secrecy
Remember when it was announced that esports would be a demonstration sport alongside this year’s Asian Games? The games themselves will be in Jakarta later this year, but the (virtual) games have already begun -- albeit in secrecy, and with a lot of twists and turns.
There was heavy fanfare when the Olympic Council of Asia announced the historic decision to include esports. Countries like Japan and South Korea were quick to announce their all-star lineups. And with Tencent being behind three of the six titles in the competition (League of Legends, Arena of Valor and Clash Royale), you’d expect China’s roster to swiftly follow.
Except it didn’t.
China wound up being dead last, submitting their lineup of players at the last minute. One report said the confirmation process was held up for a long time because the government was not on board. There were even rumors that China was going to miss out entirely.
The lineup was finally unveiled by Tencent on Jun 12, a week after the registration deadline ended... and two days after the team had already competed in the the regional qualifier for LoL in Hong Kong.
So yes, the national team did play the regional qualifier after all -- but nobody knew, because the games weren't shown. Due to broadcast license restrictions, footage of the games will not be released until June 20.
China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau and Chinese Taipei all took part, competing for three spots at the Asian Games. With no official results to rely on, online sources leaked that Chinese Taipei, South Korea and China came out as the top three in the group and will advance to Jakarta.
The coach of Team Hong Kong later confirmed the result.
Headlining China’s national team is its 6-man roster for League of Legends. Four of the team -- Uzi, LetMe, Mlxg and Ming -- are from Royal Never Give Up (RNG), which has recently become the world’s No.1 professional LoL team by winning the Mid-Season Invitational.
WE’s xiye and EDG’s Meiko were tapped to fill the remaining two spots on the team. Ji Xing from EDG will be coaching the team.
The roster for Arena of Valor mirrors that of LoL, comprising of 6 players and a coach -- appropriate, given that Arena of Valor (known as Honor of Kings inside China) is effectively a mobile version of League of Legends.
Clash Royale, as an individual event, will see only one Chinese gamer -- Lciop -- attending. There will also be a player for Hearthstone, but that has not been announced yet.
Meanwhile, China will not send teams to compete for StarCraft II and Pro Evolution Soccer 2018, the two other titles featured at the Asian Games. A famed StarCraft II commentator told us that the decision to leave out those two titles was made by the government, despite protests by many StarCraft fans.
According to the Asian Esports Federation, the East Asia regional qualifier matches are taking place from June 10 to June 20 in three cities: Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh and Changzhou. The official Asian Games matches will start on August 18.