E-sports to become a medal event in 2022 Asian Games

E-sports will be included in the official sporting programme of the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said it wanted to reflect “the rapid development and popularity of this new form of sports participation”.

Competitive video gaming will also feature as a demonstration sport in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.

And it will first appear in this year’s Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Turkmenistan.

Alongside Fifa 2017, gamers at AIMAG can expect to compete in MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) and RTA (real time attack) games.

The move is the result of a partnership between Alisports, the sports wing of e-commerce giant Alibaba, and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).

Prize money

E-sports generated $493m (£400m) in revenue in 2016, with a global audience of about 320 million people.

Revenue is predicted to rise to $696m (£553m) in 2017, with 15% of that coming from China alone, according to e-sport analysts Newzoo.

Tournaments staged in front of live audiences attract tens of thousands of fans, but online they are watched by tens of millions of viewers.

In 2014, more than 40,000 people attended the League of Legends World Championship finals when they were held in Seoul, with about 27 million unique viewers watching online.

By 2016, the tournament attracted a record 43 million unique online viewers. The winning team shared $2.7m (£2.1m) in prize money.

In the same year the International, an e-sports tournament dedicated to the MOBA game Dota 2, had a final prize fund of more than $20m (£15.6m).

The victors, the Wings Gaming team from China, won more than $9.1m (£7.1m).