Scarlett's StarCraft 2 Victory Shows How Esports Could Work For The Olympics

Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn made history for both women and non-Korean StarCraft pros yesterday by placing first in a premier tournament, IEM Pyeongchang 2018. The Canadian defeated two-time world champion Kim "sOs" Yoo Jin playing as the Zerg, her old standby, in a 4-1 victory. She's the second North American pro to ever place first at a major StarCraft 2 tournament in South Korea.

(Image via Intel/ESL)

The win signals a new era for Scarlett, who briefly stepped away from pro StarCraft in 2015. At that time, she noted that her tournament placings "haven't been great" and that she'd "thought about quitting for a while now". After her break in 2015, she returned to the game with renewed vigour, placing first in three major tournaments in 2016 and 2017.

This tournament also served as part of the International Olympic Committee's ongoing evaluation of esports as a potential medal event in the 2024 Games. Timo Lumme, Managing Director of IOC Television and Marketing Services, said this about the event:

Following on from the Olympic Summit last week, the IOC will now explore esports' relationship with the Olympic Movement further. This is just the start of an exciting future and we're interested to see how this experience will play out.

Last August, IOC president Thomas Bach said that esports seemed to be in conflict with the Olympics' goal to "promote non-discrimination, non-violence and peace. This doesn't match with video games, which are about violence, explosions and killing."

StarCraft 2 does depict war and death, with humans fighting aliens in a futuristic science fiction setting. However, the game's player base does feel like a win for "non-discrimination", given the cultural diversity of pros who competed in Pyeongchang: The top four finishers were from Canada, South Korea, Poland and Mexico. The game has long had a foothold among South Korean esports pros, but clearly, the rest of the world has begun to catch up.

One other significant difference between StarCraft 2 and most other Olympic sports would be the lack of gender division. By placing first in an elite tournament, Scarlett has showed the IOC that including esports should mean hosting a mixed-gender medal event.

The Olympics has had other mixed-gender events, such as equestrian competitions, and has been doing away with gender splits in sports where it doesn't make sense, such as curling and shooting. The IOC has always wanted events to be truly international, and now it's moving toward mixed-gender events. Scarlett's historic win shows that StarCraft can be both.


Comments

    One other significant difference between StarCraft 2 and most other Olympic sports would be the lack of gender division. By placing first in an elite tournament, Scarlett has showed the IOC that including esports should mean hosting a mixed-gender medal event.

    Because the OWL is the poster boy for Gender Diversity.

    No thanks. Esports have as much place at the Olympics as Chess or Scrabble. Squash and Netball have more place at the Olympics yet both are missing out for the 2020.

      What about curling? Tell me how curling is objectively a better choice than Starcraft.

      This whole slippery slope argument of "oh next they'll have egg testing in there!" would hold some weight if the current selection criteria for an Olympic sport was in any way rational...

      Oh and non violence? how exactly javelin got in there... or wrestling. What is violent about clicking rapidly on a keyboard and mouse?

      Though while Starcraft is mixed gender, and she has shown that's appropriate, sadly I think its more out of necessity. Been watching a lot of different Starcraft comps lately and she is literally the only women I've seen.

      I’m inclined to agree. I’m still not big on equestrian, table tennis or kayaking in the Olympics either (I’ll get over it), but I think a seperate international event is much more appropriate than an evolution of the Olympics.

        Have you ever seen serious table tennis matches?

        That shit is incredibly skillful and athletic. I'm guessing you have the image of backyard players in your head, people who rarely move their feet at all and have a few cute trick shots. Real table tennis is nothing like that and is as exciting as fuck.

      No Netball??? Who makes these stupid decisions??

        I hate netball with a passion, but you have to remember the ioc are same morons that wanted to remove Wrestling of all things from the Olympic Games

    I guess you could say that the Olympics is for physical sports (not saying that watching a pro SC2 player melt the desk under their 50k APM isn't going to take a toll on the player) and other primarily mental and strategic activities can have their own event?

    Or just say fk it and add eating competitions and most guinness world record events into the Olympics...

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