Esports is making a huge comeback next year as it officially joins the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) as a sport category.
The Southeast Asian Games Federation has already finalized its list of sports for the upcoming 2021 SEA Games way back in July this year, but the organizers have yet to decide if they are adding new sports categories. As originally planned, the 31st SEA Games would have a maximum of 40 sports categories.
Up until now, 36 sports have already been approved by the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism since July 13. However, four categories were still pending for approvals from the member countries. Three months later, the Executive Committee finally gave the green light for esports to be included as an official category for the second time around in SEA Games history.
In addition to esports, three other disciplines will complete the list of SEA Games sports namely triathlon, bowling, and jiu-jitsu. They have approved these categories and will make a formal announcement this coming November.
The 2019 SEA Games saw esports as a medal event for the first time, debuting six online titles popular across Southeast Asia: Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Arena of Valor, Dota 2, Tekken 7, Starcraft, and Hearthstone. The host nation, the Philippines, dominated three out of six titles and walked away with the country with the most gold medals won for the esports category. The next host country, Vietnam, took bronze medals in Dota 2, AoV, and Starcraft 2.
The 2021 SEA Games will be hosted by Vietnam and will start next year, November 21 at the My Dinh National Stadium in Nam Từ Liêm, Hanoi.