Indonesia, South Korea and hosts China scooped gold at the Asian Games on Tuesday as eSports fans eagerly awaited the outcome of the first gaming medal ever at a major multisports event.
All the early titles and tension on day three in Hangzhou came on the shooting range.
Muhammad Sejahtera Putra topped the podium for Indonesia in the 10m running target mixed run, ahead of North Korea’s Kwon Kwan Gil and South Korea’s Jeong You-jin.
It was the 26-year-old’s second gold of the Games – Indonesia’s only titles so far.
South Korea also tasted victory, edging Kazakhstan and Indonesia in the air rifle running target mixed team event, while world champions China won the 10m air rifle mixed team competition.
Shooter Huang Yuting, just 17, helped China to their 40th gold medal so far and said it had been an invaluable experience.
“I think I had a lot of ups and downs in my mood but I still strengthened my will and stabilised my emotions,” she said.
ESports is making its debut as a medal event in the Chinese city, seen as a major step towards Olympic status, with renowned gamers such as South Korea’s Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok in action.
Titles are up for grabs in seven titles, including League of Legends and EA Sports FC Online.
Arena of Valor is the first on the line at the futuristic and packed Hangzhou Esports Centre, with China and Malaysia fighting it out for a historic gold.
“It’s been an unexpected journey,” said Malaysian gamer Lai Chia Chien of his country making the final, meaning they are guaranteed at least silver.
Underlining just how popular it is, eSports is the only Asiad competition where tickets were allocated through an initial online lottery.
In other action, defending champions Hong Kong squeezed into the men’s rugby sevens final after edging an extra-time thriller against Japan 12-7.
Their reward is a clash with South Korea for gold after the Koreans crushed China 36-7 in the second semi-final.
Taekwondo titles are also up for grabs, while China are favourites in both the men’s and women’s team table tennis deciders. Iran face China in the men’s volleyball final.
Track cycling gets under way at the Chun’an Jieshou Sports Centre Velodrome, with the men’s and women’s team sprint medals on the line. China are defending both titles.
Another six golds are at stake in the swimming pool, where the hosts have dominated so far, securing 11 of the 14 titles.
But Hong Kong’s Olympic and world silver medallist Siobhan Haughey is raging favourite to triumph in the 100m freestyle final after a world-class 200m swim on Monday.
She topped the heats in 54.27secs and will be looking to better her own Asian record of 52.27 in the final, set when she came second to Australian superstar Emma McKeon at the Tokyo Olympics two years ago. Japanese defending champion Rikako Ikee – who won six gold at the last Asian Games before being diagnosed with leukaemia – will not be challenging her.
Ikee was part of the Japan team that finished a distant second to China in the 4x100m freestyle relay on Sunday but said afterwards she had a cough. She was a no-show in the 100m heats.
Like Haughey, China’s Wang Shun is aiming to bag a double after his stunning swim in the 200 medley on Sunday made him the third-fastest man in history.
He faces a battle in the 400m medley against three-time world champion Daiya Seto of Japan.