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KeSPA pulls out of Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games over procedural concerns

KeSPA pulled out of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.
KeSPA pulled out of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, in part because the event will not feature League of Legends.

The Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA) will not take part in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG), citing concerns of inappropriate procedures that went into the organization of the international event.

KeSPA released a statement via Twitter detailing why it will not take part in this year’s AIMAG while promising to “correspond with other Asian nations with a unified voice” to address the various issues with the event. The grievances stem from the announcement by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) that the management of the esports part of not only the AIMAG, but also for 2018 and 2022 Asian games — the latter will include esports — will be delegated to Alisports, a private Chinese enterprise owned by the Alibaba group. KeSPA’s problems stem from the events using Alisports instead of the International e-Sports Federation, the officially recognized international federation of the OCA.

According to KeSPA, Alibaba has already changed the way competing teams will be selected, electing to use online registration for anyone to be able to enter, as opposed to going through the National Federations and National Olympic committee. KeSPA argues that when it comes to competition at the level of the AIMAG and the Asian Games, more thought and procedure is necessary.

“In General, to manage a specific sport during a mega sports event, at least two to three years is required to select the specific disciplines, register national teams and its national team squad with the NOC, and also receive verification by an International Federation,” the statement reads. “Especially when it is related to specific disciplines, it is important to form a consensus with the majority of national federations to prepare for competitive level of athletes, and also to establish an environment for these players to continuously participate and train to the ultimate level.”

KeSPA alleges that 2017’s AIMAG has lacked any sort of official processes so far, and that even the selection of game titles to be played have been made “have not reached any type of consensus with the NOC, National Federation, or the athletes themselves.”

KeSPA also objected to the selection of the games that would be played at the AIMAG. Dota 2 was selected over League of Legends for the MOBA category, and though this was not included in KeSPA’s English statement, according to the organization’s post in Korean, the choice of titles failed to reflect “the underlying characteristics of esports in the participating Asian countries,” and pointed out that the absence of League of Legends, “the most popular in Asia,” was a “strange” or “unpredictable” outcome when it came to deciding what games would be played in AIMAG.

According to KeSPA, an investigation was done by the Korean Olympic Committee that confirmed the esports discipline is non-medal event, and that the registration platform for AIMAG is connected to the private web of Alisports — not the official registration platform of Turkmenistan Organizing Committee, which KeSPA said “has never been seen or existed before.”

Alisports also allegedly formed an organization called the Asian Esports Federation — something that the IeSF has been working on for the past couple of years — for the sole purpose of managing these events. KeSPA says this was done after Alisports agreed to work in cooperation with the IeSF to form the Asian Esports Federation together.

As a result, KeSPA says Korea, as well as countries that have been working with the IeSF such as China, Mongolia, Iran, and other Asian countries will not take part in this year’s AIMAG event, hoping to “notify to the OCA for its official position concerning the current situation and also its support to resolve the issue in timely manner.”

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