From Chessboards to Olympic Medals: The Rise of Esports in Sports’ Greatest Stage

As a chess player, you may be excited to learn that chess is among the new games being added to the Olympic Esports Week lineup in 2023. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is expanding upon the success of its previous Virtual Series with Olympic Esports Week, which focuses on virtual representations of physical activities. While it may seem strange to include a board game in a virtual sports competition, chess has exploded in popularity on Twitch and other online platforms, making it a natural fit for this new event.

In the past few years, chess has undergone a resurgence, with players like Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura bringing the game to a wider audience through streaming and social media. As a result, chess has become one of the most popular games on Twitch, with millions of viewers tuning in to watch grandmasters battle it out online. By including chess in the Olympic Esports Week lineup, the IOC is acknowledging the game’s growing popularity and the skill and strategy required to play at a high level.

If you’re a serious chess player, you may be wondering how the competition will be structured and what you need to do to qualify. According to the IOC, the initial qualifiers for Olympic Esports Week began on March 1st, but there may still be opportunities to qualify for the in-person event in Singapore from June 22nd to 25th. Details about the competition format and prize pool have not yet been announced, but you can stay up-to-date by following the official Olympic Esports Series website and social media channels.

Of course, some may argue that chess is not an esport, and they have a point. Esports typically refers to competitive video games played on computers or consoles, whereas chess is a board game played on a physical board. However, the line between esports and traditional sports is becoming increasingly blurred, with virtual and augmented reality technologies enabling new forms of competition. In this context, it’s not hard to see how chess could be considered an esport, as it requires many of the same skills and strategies as popular video games like League of Legends and Fortnite.

In any case, the inclusion of chess in the Olympic Esports Week lineup is a welcome development for the game and its fans. Whether you’re a casual player or a serious competitor, the opportunity to represent your country and compete on the world stage is an exciting prospect. So why not dust off your board and start practicing your opening moves? Who knows, you could be the next Olympic esports chess champion!