At the Olympic Asian Indoor-Martial Arts Tournament a Starcraft 2 tournament took center stage

Published on 09/29/2017 12:00 PDT by ROOT Gaming

In the nation of Turkmenistan, surrounded by stadium's full of chess players contemplating their moves, martial artists showing their skills and cyclists flew around the track something unique was happening, Chinese Starcraft 2 player iAsonu defeated teammate XiGua to finish his run where he lost one game the entire tournament. China claiming both the gold and silver medal in an eSport event that made history.

While this tournament was overlooked a bit or many didn't even know it was happening it was a really entertaining tournament. It was put on by the Olympic Council of Asia which is recognized and supported by the International Olympic Committee. This is the first event put on the IOC to feature eSports and it was done in preparation for the 2022 Asian games. A number of countries didn't even have eSports organizations but some, like Jordan, put one together and quickly gathered sponsors, even faster than many traditional sports. Also as an official Olympic event the players don't receive prize money but do get official medals like the other athletes do.

In terms of the actual event it was well done. They got three reputable casters in ROOT's own Wardi, Tenshi and RAPiD. During the cast they focused a great deal on the fundamentals of the game, likely due to them trying to provide a good cast to new viewers both online and at the stage. Production was smooth with generally similar or less downtime to other LAN events and somewhat different filler video and music, though this is likely a regional difference than personal taste. All three casters did a good job and I would love to hear their thoughts on the event since I'm fairly sure they are the first casters, main ones at least, to cast in Turkmenistan or at an event like that where other non-eSports are taking place.

As for the games themselves I think with Korean players not participating it was clear China would be the nation to beat when it was announced iAsonu and XiGua would be the representatives. iAsonu was having a fantastic year likely capped off with his defeats of Stats and GuMiho at IEM Shanghai in front of his home nation. He also sits at 12th overall in WCS points, out of the WCS Finals but a strong year for him. XiGua is a legend himself who ranks in the top 5 Chinese players of all time and is one of the oldest active Starcraft 2 pros at the spry age of 30. Against them stood two Taiwanese players Cell and Nice who sit near the top of their nation's leader boards. Lastly you had the Mongolian legend Sioras (famously disqualified for watching replays at Harstem's computer at the Gold Series International Shanghai despite Harsten not asking for him to be disqualified), Filipino players JackDReaper and XenoS and lastly Iranian Niiin.

While the Filipinos and Niiin fell quickly before the onslaught of these WCS caliber players they won some admiration (Jack got a follow from me and others on Twitter). The big surprise of group play was Sioras going 3-0 in his group where he dropped only one game against XiGua but made quick work of the Cell and JackDReaper. Once group play wrapped up few other surprises stood out as iAsonu left his group without dropping a map. The bracket stage began with a simple wipe Nice and XenoS as Cell advanced to face iAsonu and XiGua went on to face the man who humbled him a day ago Sioras. Both Chinese players were victorious and would meet in the finals. In the bronze medal match Sioras faced Cell who he had beaten 2-0 in bracket play. Cell took a dominate game 1 and almost took another but Sioras wouldn't be denied and earned himself and Mongolia the Bronze medal.

In the finals teammates on Invictus Gaming iAsonu and XiGua faced off. XiGua representing the old guard of Chinese Starcraft while iAsonu was the new blood. Once things started though it was clear that iAsonu was a step above Xigua with a cleaver Muta switch in game 1 and near perfect timing attacks in two other games. iAsonu showed his ZvZ chops with the win, losing one map across the whole tournament, going 9-1 and claiming that gold medal

While the level of competition was a bit low, especially in the group stage when you could easily tell who was a professional and who wasn't it was still an enjoyable tournament. It is so rare to see SC2 get recognition like this while also seeing players from nations so rarely allowed on the stage. Overall I enjoyed the tournament.

Also it was clear using real names was tough on the casters, especially since the casters were from Western country but they did well. I actually like the use of real names but I think user ID's are so ingrained in gaming that may not change any time soon.

All tournament images respectfully from Ashgabat press releases. All tables are courtesy of Liquipedia.

About the Author

Topher is an American football and eSports writer with a focus on statistical metadata research. You can follow Topher on Twitter

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