Esports officially back in SEA Games, but no titles announced yet


THE organizers behind the 31st Southeast Asian Games have finally confirmed news that leaked out more than a month ago: esports will return to the SEA Games.

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“The AESF is proud to announce that after months of lobbying and numerous discussions, esports is officially returning as a medal sporting event at the upcoming 2021 SEA Games in Vietnam,” said the Asian Electronic Sports Federation, the sole governing body for the sport in Asia.

However, it continued, “Further details on the tournament format, game titles contested and national team selection guides will be released in due course.”

In last year’s SEA Games, where the Philippines dominated with three gold medals, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Arena Of Valor, Dota 2, Tekken 7, Starcraft 2, and Hearthstone were the six contested events.

The SEA Games announcement comes after months of speculation and rumors. In mid-October, Vietnamese publications leaked the news that esports — along with triathlon, bowling, and jiu jitsu — had been approved for next year’s lineup by the Southeast Asian Games Federation Executive Committee.

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An article in the Vietnam Express International further quoted an official of the Vietnam Recreation and Esports Association, who said that Dota 2, Arena of Valor, and Pro Evolution Soccer would be among the titles to be played.

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But there is no official confirmation for any game just yet.

“Everyone is totally on board with the inclusion of esports into the SEA Games, and I feel the continued presence in Vietnam will continue the momentum which we’ve been riding since 2019,” said AESF Director General Sebastian Lau.

He added: “Originally, esports was not included as one of the 36 disciplines as part of the event which was released by the host nation back in July. This prompted AESF to drum up support to lobby for the inclusion of esports through the submissions of requests from participating countries during the appealing process thereafter. Today, we can now proudly and officially celebrate the inclusion of esports at the 2021 SEA Games.”

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The SEA Games will be held from November 21 to December 2 next year.

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