Japan, as one of the gaming capitals of the world, was always going to put a certain level of pop culture spin on its modern take on the olympic games. We can only imagine the level of LED-lit, brightly-coloured tech wizardry they have to offer the thousands of travelers who will descend upon the Pacific Rim for next year's Summer Games, and now we know that in the lead-up to the games, pro gaming will make its mark on the Olympic landscape for the first time.
Olympic sponsors Intel, who are also rolling out a host of new technology to help track athletes in the actual games when they're held, are responsible for the push, organising what will be one of the most prestigious Esport tournaments of 2020 in the form of the Intel World Open.
The Intel World Open will cover two immensely popular games in the world of Esports — Rocket League and Street Fighter V — the latter of which has a distinctly Japanese flavour to it. A prize pool of $250,000 will be offered in each game.
According to Engadget, "the final championship tournament will be held on June 22-24 in Tokyo. Similar to the Olympics, players will play on teams that represent their nations. A total of 12 nations will be pre-selected to form national teams.
"Beginning in March, national qualifiers will determine the best four players of each nation, who will be selected to form that team. During the live qualifier in Poland, twenty teams will compete in a group stage qualifier to determine the strongest team in the Americas, EEMEA (Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa) and the Asia Pacific region.
"The final seven teams will compete against Japan in the World Open in Tokyo."
At face value, it might just look like an empty attempt at making the Olympics a little bit techier. But there's more to the Esports open than meets the eye.
Most importantly, the Intel World Open is actually sanctioned by the IOC, and could go towards paving the way for the entry of Esports as an official Olympic sport somewhere down the track. It's actually not the first time the IOC have gotten behind the concept of Esports — them and Intel hosted a Starcraft II tournament in the leadup to the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics.
Intel will also be rolling out a 5G network across Tokyo for visitors with 5G-ready phones to use, representing a major boost for the city's mobile infrastructure.