Esports is now considered an official sport in Ukraine.
The country’s Commission for the Recognition of Sports of the Ukrainian Ministry for Youth and Sports announced that esports is officially a sport. In the government’s press release, the Ukrainian Esports Federation (UESF) and the Ukrainian Professional Cybersport Association (UPEA) had lobbied for esports to be recognized, with the UESF submitting documents to the Ministry.
“I am very happy that we can now officially work with esports,” Deputy Minister for Digital Transformation Vitality Lavrov said.
The USEF had been working with the International Esports Federation (ESF) to get esports recognized as a sport for over a year. It was founded in 2018 to continue the work of the Ukrainian Federation of Cyber Sports (FCSU), founded in 2003. It became inactive in 2017.
“We cannot ignore this phenomenon because esports is developing very fast all over the world. Audience interest is growing every month as is the involvement of our population,” Ukraine Minister of Youth and Sports Vadym Gutzayt said.
Gutzayt explained that many children are already in front of the computer “most of the time.” By recognizing esports as a sport, young Ukrainians would turn their hobby into an “intellectual competition” instead of an addiction to gaming.
After the USEF’s year-long efforts, the Minister of the Cabinet of Ministries of Ukraine, Oleh Nemchinov, met with UPEA’s founder, Alexander Kokhanovskyy and COO Oleh Rybalka. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss esports status as an official sport, as well as Ukrainian’s long-term investment strategies in the esports industry.
Esports has been continuously growing in Ukraine. Kokhanovskyy himself had founded Natus Vincere, one of the world’s most renowned esports organizations. In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Natus Vincere has a long history of success and is currently ranked 8th in the world. In 2018, the team finished second at the FACEIT Major. In 2019, they came in third at IEM Katowice. This year, Na’Vi became the 2020 IEM Katowice champions.
Na`Vi is also known for its success in Dota 2, including a championship victory at The International.
Kokhanovskyy also founded DreamTeam, which purchased a hotel in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv with the goal of turning it into an “esports ready hotel” to continue developing the industry within the city.
According to Esports Flag, CSGO is the most popular esport in Ukraine. There are 19 esports teams based out of the country, which have combined to accumulate over $2.6 million in prize money. Ukraine also has 46 professional Dota 2 players, including those employed by such organizations as Natus Vincere and HellRaisers. Dota 2 players in Ukraine have won over $8.4 in prize rewards.