The Korean e-Sports Association (“KeSPA”) has announced today that it will not take part in the 2017 Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games (“AIMAG”), Turkmenistan.
In brief, the reasons for its refusal are as follows:
- Esports discipline conducted by a non-international federation (and lack of general procedures as a huge sporting event);
- Esports disciplines decided without consensus with National Federations.
The news also outlines that China, Iran, Mongolia and Vietnam are to respond to the issue with a unified statement. It comes after recent news of the esports trials at AIMAG, including the titles: Hearthstone, Dota 2, FIFA/NBA and Starcraft II.
The release details in extensive detail the reasons as to why KeSPA will not participate. It mentions the history of KeSPA and AIMAG, with the former assisting the latter at the 2009 and 2013 trials. At the last AIMAG, which was held on Korea, KeSPA worked closely with the International e-Sports Federation (“IeSF”) to conduct and manage esports discipline during the AIMAG.
The IeSF has been in continuous conversation with the OCA and 2017 Turkmenistan AIMAG Organising Committee for esports to continue its involvement as a title in the Games. However due to the lack internet infrastructure and budget, it was concluded that it is not able to manage esports with sufficient resources in the region.
The main issue that KeSPA has is the fact that instead, the OCA has announced that esports will be managed for 2017, 2018 and 2022 games by Alisports, a private enterprise owned by Alibaba – rather than conducting itself through the officially recognised international federation, which in this case is the IeSF. It also bemoans the fact that official national team selection will not be conducted through the National Federations and National Olympic Committees, but anyone can register online and the qualifiers will be conducted online.
A further gripe is the way the specific game titles were selected. KeSPA outlines in its statement that no consensus was made with the NOC, National Federation or the athletes. It also goes on to say “it has been found through investigation, that the announcement to include esports has been conducted without consideration of the athletes, not being eligible to receive support in becoming a member of the national team squad”.
KeSPA approached the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) to ask about the participation process of the 2017 AIMAG and received the following feedback:
“KOC has already finalised national team squad for all participating disciplines and therefore cannot dispatch additional esports athletes as official national team members. KOC added after their internal check, that it is a non-medal event, and moreover, that the registration platform is connected a web of a private enterprise (Alisports), and not the official registration platform of Turkmenistan Organizing Committee, an incident which has never been seen or existed before. Considering the current circumstances, KeSPA has also concluded not to dispatch national team members for the rights and interest of Korean esports athletes cannot be protected at this point of time.”
The final issue that KeSPA raise is the fact that Alisports formed an organisation called Asian Esports Federation, supposedly “under the nose” of IeSF, in order to manage esports at events such as AIMAG.
Esports Insider says: It’s safe to say that KeSPA aren’t happy about this at all. From what they’ve said, it’s fairly easy to see why.