Kyrgyz opera director sacked over cybersports event

Multiplayer online battle game 'Dota 2' is one of the leading brands in eSports, a multi-million dollar industry with aspirations of Olympic representation.

The director of Kyrgyzstan's main opera hall was fired for allowing an eSports tournament to be held there, officials said. 

A scandal erupted in the Central Asian country after a national tournament devoted to the violent multiplayer computer game Dota 2 was staged at the Opera and Ballet Theatre in the capital Bishkek. 

In an interview, Culture Minister Azamat Zhamankulov said Bolot Osmonov had been dismissed and appeared to suggest the tournament was the reason. "Osmonov did not inform me about his intention to host cyber games in the theatre. I would not have given my consent," Zhamankulov said. 

Tair Beisheev, a well-known opera singer complained on the day of the tournament that "a terrible event" was taking place where "great names, the sons and daughters of Kyrgyzstan performed." 

Osmonov had justified the move as a commercial opportunity for the theatre, which is funded from the strapped national budget, noting event sponsor Beeline – a mobile operator –had paid US$300 (RM1,200) per hour to rent the theatre.

Kyrgyzstan's prime minister signed off on Osmonov's dismissal, a representative of the theatre said.

Multiplayer online battle game Dota 2 is one of the leading brands in eSports, a multi-million dollar industry with aspirations of Olympic representation. Dota's equivalent of the Champions League, called The International (TI), had a prize pool of around US$25mil (RM102mil) in 2018.

While it is uncertain whether so-called eSports such as Dota 2 will ever feature at the Olympics, the commercial pull of the sector is undeniable. 

In November last year, US fast food giant McDonald's announced it was ending a 15-year partnership with the German national football team to concentrate on eSports sponsorship. – AFP


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