China and Russia issued a joint statement this week signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow, which included an important mention of “esports.” The statement revealed that the two countries will cooperate to create international sports events in Russia, which will include an esports component. The reasoning behind this cooperation stems from Russia being excluded from international sporting events because of the ongoing war with Ukraine.
“China will support Russia in hosting International esports event ‘Future Games’ in Kazan, Russia, in 2024,” the Russia-Chinese joint statement reads. “Both sides object to politicizing in sports, and hopes sports can promote peace and unity.”
This announcement is a milestone for China esports, as it’s the first time that President Xi actually acknowledges the term “esports” in the joint statement with Russia’s top leader President Putin. It’s also indicates that esports has moved to the main stage of diplomacy between two of the largest countries in the world.
It’s not clear what esports titles will be featured in Russia’s “Future Games,” as most mainstream esports titles, such as Dota 2, League of Legends, and CS:GO were developed by U.S. game publishers, Valve and Riot Games. It is likely that Riot-owned titles such Valorant, Wild Rift, and League of Legends could be part of the line-up, as Chinese game publisher Tencent owns the company.
Dota 2 is a popular esports title in Russia. In 2021, Russian esports organization Team Spirit won Dota 2’s $40M USD The International event, taking home more than $18.2M in prize money. After the event, President Putin sent a congratulatory letter to Team Spirit and all of its players.
Editor’s note: We mistakenly reported that Team Spirit took home “$1.82M in prize money” when it should have been “$18.2M.” We have moved the decimal point to the right by one space and corrected the error.