German esports: Progress vs the past
Esports has a strange and, at this point, somewhat abusive history, but there are some nations that have traditionally been there for the gaming community. Poland's Katowice has long welcomed fans to enjoy the greatest in CS and other games, for example, but no nation can have as many iconic esports venues as Germany. DreamHack Leipzig, ESL One Hamburg, ESL One Frankfurt and, of course, ESL One Cologne are all big events in the scene, and there are a fair few other venues in that part of the world to host massive gaming events in recent years.
And yet, alongside this progressive, intelligent adoption of what is certainly a new and growing phenomenon, there is also a stubborn refusal from some parts of the ruling class in Germany to accept esports deserves respect, or apparently even exists. We’ve written about this before, and if you follow traditional sport and teams like Bayern you know how idiotic and hypocritical powerful men in that part of the world can be, but the blazers in Bavaria and beyond have really excelled themselves this time.
Alfons Hörmann, president of the Deutschen Olympischen Sportbundes (DOSB), the German Olympic Sports Confederation, is particularly out there when it comes to his opposition to the scene, even refusing to accept esports exists, like some sort of flat-earther ignoring the curvature of the earth. Like flat-earthers, Hörmann will have attracted a fair amount of mirth in a nation that already has some of the most dedicated esports fans in Europe, if not the world.
“Esports does not exist. And it will not be included in the Olympic program,” said Hörmann. He is currently supported by Hesse Interior and Sports Minister Peter Beuth, who has previously stated that he wants to “exterminate” the term esports because it has “nothing to do with sports". How he feels about old or unfit people driving ‘sports cars’ we may never find out, but it’s safe to assume Mr Beuth has nothing of value to add to this conversation.
Now, it’s fair to point out that Germany doesn’t need esports as much as Denmark or Finland might, having a relatively successful football division, albeit not an elite one, as well as a number of other sports enjoyed by the population. Equally, like the UK, it has struggled to produce world class players in the same sort of number as nations like Brazil, France or China, and has some of the most archaic and dim-witted laws around gaming you’ve ever seen.
However, it is genuinely sad to see a nation with plenty of esports-loving citizens represented publicly by such dinosaurs, and there could well be a connection between this sort of attitude and the lack of top-level German competitors in games such as CSGO. In fairness to Germany, there is also a good degree of support for esports at a government level, but this baffling resistance from their old suits has gone on some time, and continues into 2019 apparently.
Mr Bright Side
Still, there is always a bright side, and you can trust Sir Scoots to find it. As he was quick to point out on twitter, association with the IOC isn’t exactly the sort of image-management that necessarily helps esports as a whole, even if it would provide support for players in some nations. If you think corruption is bad in esports, just wait until the likes of FIFA, UEFA or the IOC get involved on a more serious level, because you ain’t seen nothing yet.