Eilat to hold e-sports world championships as planned despite COVID-19

Some 100 players to participate in the finals, aired to millions of viewers worldwide * gaming surpasses music and movies combined.

Jan 26, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Fans react as the Minnesota Rokkr battle the Toronto Ultra during the Call of Duty League Launch Weekend at The Armory. (photo credit: BRUCE KLUCKHOHN-USA TODAY SPORTS REUTERS)
Jan 26, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Fans react as the Minnesota Rokkr battle the Toronto Ultra during the Call of Duty League Launch Weekend at The Armory.
(photo credit: BRUCE KLUCKHOHN-USA TODAY SPORTS REUTERS)
Eilat will host the 2020 eSports World Championships as planned despite COVID-19, the International e-Sports Federation (IESF) announced on Wednesday. This is the first time Israel will host the event, which is expected to be watched by millions of viewers around the world.  
The IESF's decision was the result of a joint effort by the Israeli e-Sports Association (IESA), the Prime Minister’s Office, the city of Eilat and Maccabi World Union.  
IESA head Ido Brosh thanked the federation and said that in addition to holding the games in Eilat this winter, Israel will also host the 2021 championship next year, “in a grander, even more luxurious manner.”
Head of the IEA Ido Brosh(Credit: Alina Hachman)Head of the IEA Ido Brosh(Credit: Alina Hachman)
Brosh added that Israel is the only country after South Korea, where the IESF is located, to host the games two years in a row.
Roy Hessing, Maccabi’s deputy executive director and Maccabiah CEO, lauded the news, saying that “for the next two years, the State of Israel,” and the other parties involved in the games “will be at the front and center of what is the most rapidly growing industry in the world.”   
Since at least 2016, gaming has been a bigger industry than both Hollywood and the music industry combined, according to vanillaplus.com. Interest in gaming has expanded even more during the social quarantining and surging unemployment caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.  In addition, e-sports has also seen a rise in popularity over the past few years, with some of the most popular titles such as DOTA 2 and League of Legends retaining large fanbases and very active competitive scenes, and major competitions often have large audiences and a significant prize pool.
Among e-sports organizations, however, the IESF is one of the largest. Its world championships are considered among the most prestigious of its kind and are watched by over 200 million people worldwide.
 Sega created an official video game for the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo, and e-sports are likely to be included in the Olympics in four years' time to attract younger viewers. Unlike athletes who compete in the Olympics as part of a national team, some gamers who take part in e-sports world championships are amateurs while others enjoy state support.
"The Korean and Swedish Teams enjoy a salaried position as well as a nutrition specialist, a sports psychologist and a place to train at," Brosh told The Jerusalem Post. "We hope to one day get the same things for the Israeli team."

It is unclear what form e-sports will have if included in the Olympics in the future. It has yet to be decided whether national teams with salaried gamers will have to be created in each country to compete against each other and which international body will oversee this aspect of the Olympics.
Gamers who won the world title in the past would win up to roughly $150,000, Brosh told the Post. The winners then pass the prize to the local gaming authority they compete under, and it is this authority who decides how the prize is divided. The total sum is paid by both IESF and the local chapter hosting the games, in this case the IESA.
Before COVID-19, the plan was to host 500 players from around the world in Eilat and have the gaming championship take place at the Ice Mall.
Roughly 100 players are expected to visit Eilat to compete this December while adhering to Health Ministry regulations, including wearing masks and social distancing during the competition.