Foreign media question whether esports player Faker will get a gold medal and be exempted from military service
On September 22nd, a day before the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP) addressed the issue of military service benefits in an article titled “South Korea esports stars like Faker could get what BTS failed to – military exemption”.
The media said, “K-pop powerhouse BTS did not get one, star footballer Son Heung-min did: South Korea grants limited exemptions from military service and for the first time esports players can earn one. For South Korean men, winning gold in any sport at the Asian Games opening on Saturday in Hangzhou comes with an automatic exemption from 18 months in the army”, adding “This year esports is a medal event for the first time, meaning South Korea’s top players including team captain Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok have double the incentive.”
Citing the news of Son Heung-min receiving military service exemption with a gold medal at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games, SCMP said, “Despite generating billions for the economy and helping propel K-pop to a global audience, megastars BTS were not deemed eligible.”
SCMP continued, “National team’s esports coach Kim Jeong-gyun brushed away questions on it, saying ‘a sense of duty’ of representing South Korea will be the only motivation for the players. But analysts say military service exemptions are a ‘very important issue’ for the young athletes”, then introduced a recent remark of Professor Choi Eun-kyoung at Hanshin University.
Professor Choi emphasized, “Currently, all professional esports players are male who begin playing in their late teens”, adding “The benefit of exemptions from military service is important because it can be another huge motivation booster for players, apart from the pride of representing their country.”
At this Asian Games, South Korea’s esports team consisting of 15 players will participate in four contests, including FC Online, League of Legends, PUBG Mobile, and Street Fighter V.
Aiming for at least 50 gold medals and third place in the overall rankings of the Asian Games, the South Korean team expects at least two gold medals in esports.
“Faker” Lee Sang-hyeok participated in the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games when esports was adopted as a demonstration sport, and ranked second place after losing to the China team. He promised, “I will make sure to win and give fans uniforms I signed as a gift”.
South Korea’s LOL team belongs to Group A with Hong Kong and Kazakhstan teams and will enter the two-day preliminary round on September 25th. After the tournament, the long-awaited finale will be held on the 29th.
Source: Sports Chosun