They were the friendly Games. After too long in a bubble, the Istanbul 2022 Global Esports Games welcomed a vibrant community who joined together, face-to-face, again at last
There were two days of intense competition, full of joy, tears and surprises – but there were also handshakes, fist bumps and hugs for friends, old and new.
“We are so happy to all be here together again, in this wonderful city, as one #worldconnected community,” GEF President Chris Chan said.
“We have seen great competition, but, above all that, great friendship, great unity, and a people brought together through a love of esports.”
Bright future of gaming clear from diversity of winners
The diversity of the GEF world was amply profiled by its medalists: they were old, young, female, male, and from every corner of the globe.
In Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, 43-year-old GamerBee of Chinese Taipei showed he is a master tactician – and became the first person to retain a GEG medal.
He beat Great Britain’s The4philzz, 21. “It’s really hard for me to keep (up) to those young guys, but I like fighting games, and I want to keep it up,” GamerBee said.
In the DOTA 2 women’s final, Thailand beat early medal favorites Malaysia with a tactical masterclass. “We were really surprised by them,” Thailand’s team manager, Fin, said. “We were worried a little bit. And in an early game, we did a lot of mistakes but then we came back strong.”
In the DOTA 2 open event, Peru’s professionals prevailed. “You have to make sacrifices and put your entire being into it, if you really want to win,” FLAPJACK said after his team’s polished performance in the final to defeat local heroes Türkiye.
In the eFootball™ 2023, Iran’s Hasan_Player1 was too strong for Brazil’s Eduardinho_PR, winning 2-1 after a couple of tight, exciting games. “Comeback. I thought just about a comeback,” the Iranian said with a laugh, reflecting on losing the first match. “I knew I could do it.”
The PUBG MOBILE competition concluded proceedings, with Vietnam winning, ahead of Saudi Arabia, who got silver, and Chinese Taipei taking bronze. “The last match was very difficult,” DXFrankyyy007 said. “We had some strategy for the cycle, but we battled hard to get the top ranking."
A milestone for esports
The organizers loved the Games as much as the competitors. “We are proud of hosting this event in Istanbul. I see it as a milestone in esports,” said Renay Onur, General Manager and Board Member of Spor Istanbul. “The people who support esports are shaping the sporting industry. I have really enjoyed watching the matches.
“I am quite old-school, so most of all I have enjoyed watching Street Fighter and eFootball here. It has been exciting. I am proud to be part of this community.”
The Mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu, received a warm welcome from the youthful crowd. “Istanbul has the world’s youngest population average,” he said. “So, it’s a really interesting event for us to be hosting, and I’m really glad to be hosting an event that young people are so interested (in).”
Paul J. Foster, the CEO of GEF, added: “We leave Istanbul renewed, refreshed and inspired, at this place where for many centuries the world has come to connect. It is no surprise that our #worldconnected has been here and had the time of their lives.
“As we said to the Mayor of Istanbul, as he visited our beautiful arena, it has really exceeded our high expectations. Istanbul has really reset the bar.
“We look forward to the next Global Esports Games in Riyadh 2023, in China in 2024, the United Arab Emirates in 2025, and the USA in 2026.”
After the Closing Ceremony, attention turned to Saudi Arabia, the host of next year’s edition of the Global Esports Games. HRH Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, President of Saudi Esports Federation and the Arab Esports Federation, is relishing the challenge.
“Istanbul has been a sight to see – the bar is set high for next year,” he said. “I’m a gamer at heart, and if there is no challenge, there is no point doing something. It’s something I relish. With every GEF event around the world, we get a better end product. I can’t wait to welcome the world to Riyadh.”
It is something a #worldconnected cannot wait to experience either.