Esports fans have been wishing for competitive gaming to appear at the Olympic Games for some time now, and with the announcement of the Intel World Open, it's all but there. In the run-up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, Intel will be hosting a Rocket League (opens in new tab) and Street Fighter (opens in new tab) tournament with a prize pool of $250k for each game.
The Intel World Open is taking place from July 22-24 – with the Olympics kicking off on July 24 – at the Zepp DiverCity venue in Tokyo, and the online qualifiers are open for anyone from the participating countries to compete it. ESL, a major partner of Intel, will be in charge of all production for the event, along with a final qualifying event in Katowice, Poland.
It may seem baffling to some that of all the competitive games to play, Rocket League and Street Fighter 5 were the ones chosen, but there is actually some logic there. While League of Legends (opens in new tab), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (opens in new tab), and Fortnite (opens in new tab) may be three of the most popular esports in the world right now, they're also considerably harder to understand and follow than the titles featured. A point raised by The Esports Observer (opens in new tab) (who originally reported on this story with an exclusive interview), Rocket League is very similar to soccer – albeit with flying cars – and Street Fighter is simple melee combat with oversized health bars, so an audience unfamiliar with the game will know who's winning.
There's also the consideration that neither game is particularly violent or gory. Sure, Street Fighter is all about beating up your opponent, but the cartoon art style and lack of gore are much preferred to the guns and "Terrorists win!" aspect of something like CS:GO.
In the aforementioned interview with The Esports Observer, Mark Subotnick, Intel's director of business development for games and esports explained that they're "really looking for the broadest audience and the most accessibility, and these two titles really lead well for that. These two titles are something that the average consumer or audience member can look at and get what’s going on, and that’s unfortunately not always the case in esports. So that makes a lot of sense to work with these two partners.”
Maybe we'll see esports feature as a main component of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France? The Intel World Open is a positive step forward for the future of esports, and one that I can fully get behind. Question is, which nation is truly the best at Rocket League?
Make sure you check out how Rocket League recently ditched loot boxes (opens in new tab) in an effort to be more transparent.