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Volume 26 No. 92
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Intel To Hold Two Esports Events In Conjunction With '20 Olympics

Intel has announced that Capcom's "Street Fighter V" and Epic Games' "Rocket League" will be the two games at the Intel World Open, its esports competition to be held in Tokyo just before the '20 Games. There will be a $250,000 prize pool in each tournament. In both cases, national teams will be formed through online qualifiers open to individuals worldwide, with live final qualifying in Katowice, Poland, in June. This is the second Olympics-adjacent esports tournament run by Intel, which is both the world's largest esports sponsor and an IOC TOP sponsor. The company in '18 held a Starcraft II tournament in Pyeongchang, South Korea, shortly before the Opening Ceremony. The Intel World Open will be at the Zepp DiverCity in Odaiba, a Tokyo district that will also host numerous Olympic sports and major sponsor activations. It will run July 22-24, with the championships being awarded just hours before the Opening Ceremony. Given its location, the World Open figures to draw a much larger live audience than the Korean event. Game selection was a closely watched strategic decision for Intel and the IOC, which continues to consider the role of esports in the Olympics. Street Fighter was chosen for its special resonance with Japanese gamers, and Rocket League is known as perhaps the major esports title most easily understood by mass audiences and features the least objectionable content.

IOC STILL INTERESTED IN ESPORTS: The IOC at one point in recent years seemed to be considering adding esports to the official games program. However, the organization last November indicated it wanted more time to study the issue, leaving Intel's sponsorship activation as the home to esports in the Olympic context for the foreseeable future. IOC Sports Dir Kit McConnell in a statement said, "As we explore the engagement between esports and the Olympic Movement we are looking forward to learning from this event and continuing to engage with the passionate esports community from around the world." In the Street Fighter tournament, 20 countries will field teams of four -- 12 countries pre-chosen ahead of time and 8 countries determined by online tournaments. The seven winners of the Poland qualifiers will advance to compete with the Japanese team in Tokyo. In the Rocket League tournament, there will be online competitions to determine which teams represent their countries. The top 16 teams will advance to Poland, and 7 will advance to Tokyo.

For more coverage of the business of esports, visit our partners, esportsobserver.com.