The World Cyber Games (WCG) has announced that their 2019 Finals will be held in Xi’an, China from 18th to 21st July next year. After being acquired by Crossfire developer Smilegate, they had announced plans to host a 2018 event in Bangkok, Thailand. However, they announced earlier this year that they reconsidered the tournament format, citing fan feedback and “industry officials”, and postponed the event.
Chairman of the WCG Committee Hyuk Bin Kwon said: “We are preparing a wide array of entertainment programs in addition to its game tournaments to regain and solidify the glory of WCG as the leading global esports festival. I extend my sincere gratitude to the Qujiang New District of Xi’an, the birthplace of the ancient Chinese civilization with an amazing historical heritage, for deciding to support WCG’s plan to showcase various aspects of the future digital culture to audiences from all over the world.”
The revival of the WCG comes at an interesting time, with talks of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) taking an interest in esports. WCG is expanding by adding qualifying rounds for amateur gamers, which could lead to a possible partnership with the IOC. Esports still faces major hurdles before it can be included as an Olympic sport, after facing a setback in the Asian Games, IOC President Thomas Bach reiterated his concerns for violent esport titles. The IOC has also stated that esports needs a single governing body before its addition can be considered.
WCG had been a long-standing premier event in the early 2000s, with many esport titles regarding it as their sole major event. It gained prominence and prestige due to the regional nature of the format, gathering participants from many countries across the world. If the inclusion in the Olympics still has to conquer multiple hills, the WCG could return and fulfil the niche of a global competition featuring national teams competing against each other. While they no longer boast the biggest prize pools, national pride can be compelling for audiences to watch and cheer for.
Esports Insider says: The World Cyber Games brand was legendary during the days of Counter-Strike 1.6, Warcraft III and Starcraft: Brood War. The international scene for Brood War, in particular, was built around the qualifying rounds of WCG and contributed to the myth of the unbeatable South Korean players. While esports has largely moved on since then, there is a certain nostalgia that the WCG name carries. With expectations low, WCG could surprise if they execute a flawless tournament next year.