The 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, which will include esports tournaments for League of Legends, FIFA 2022, Hearthstone, PUBG Mobile, Street Fighter V, as well as several competitive mobile titles, has been postponed, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) revealed today in a press release.
The Olympic event was scheduled for September, from 10 to 25. All competitions have been indefinitely postponed due to “the pandemic situation and the size of the Games,” following debates between the OCA, Chinese Olympic Committee (COC), and the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC).
It’s unclear when the esports tournaments will take place and if they will happen at all. The new dates could clash with official competitions on some of the featured esports titles.
Each season of competitive League of Legends, in particular, is packed with tournaments and precious break times between splits. If the event is postponed for several weeks, it could clash with the World Championship, which generally kicks off in October. And since the next iteration will take place in North America, teams participating in the event will likely have to fly to the continent several weeks before it starts.
In addition, since the selected League teams include some of the best players in the region, it’s possible that some players will qualify for the tournament. South Korea’s preselected team for the Hangzhou Asian Games, for example, includes all T1 starting players, which is generally considered one of the strongest teams in the world.
This is not the first time the Olympic event has clashed with official schedules. It already stirred controversy when League head coach KkOma said he intended to resign from the South Korean team last month because of KeSPA’s mismanagement of practice schedules and selection process.
Moreover, even if the League event at the Hangzhou Asian Games is postponed to after the end of the esports season, it’s unclear if players will be willing to sacrifice their offseason break to participate or if they’ll have the mental strength to compete at the highest level following 10 months of intense practice and competition.
While numerous countries have lowered sanitary restrictions despite the global spread of COVID-19’s variant Omicron, China has continued with its “zero COVID” strategy and numerous cities are now in lockdown. Even then, the country is struggling to curb the number of cases, which is constantly rising nonetheless.
OCA Executive Board also canceled the third iteration of the Asian Youth Games, which had been previously postponed to December. The next iteration will be held in 2025 in Uzbekistan.