League of Legends will appear at the 2018 Asian Games as an official demonstration sport. Despite the International Olympic Committee ruling out violent games from their competitions, Riot confirmed that their game, which is one of the biggest esports in the world, will be playable at the Games, the second-biggest multi-sport event in the world behind the Olympics.
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In a statement reported by Dot Esports, co-head of esports at Riot Jarred Kennedy said that “we’re honored that League of Legends was selected for the Asian Games.” The Games are recognised by the International Olympic Committee as one of the world’s largest multi-sport events, so while esports maintain a wider cultural relevance in Asia than many other parts of the world, it’s a notable step towards their recognition on an Olympic stage.
Riot will work with the Olympic Council of Asia and various member nations to organise the tournament and a format for selecting the teams over the coming months. 45 nations will be taking part in regional qualifiers throughout June, in which each country will field their own team. Host nation Indonesia will automatically progress to the main competition, while South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia will all field one team each. Due to the “highly competitive” nature of esports within South East Asia (home to some of League of Legends’ biggest leagues, including South Korea’s LCK, Hong Kong’s LMS, and China’s LPL), four teams will progress.
It’s important to note that nations, not organisations, will field teams. That means that you shouldn’t automatically expect to see top flight competitive League of Legends teams appear – it is of course possible that, say, the entirety of SKT T1 appear for Korea, but there’s no guarantee that that’ll be the case, especially for teams made up of players from multiple nationalities.
We’ve reached out to Riot for further comment.