Esports will not be a part of the Commonwealth Games for 2026 cover image

Esports will not be a part of the Commonwealth Games for 2026

The Commonwealth Games will not feature esports in 2026 despite a pilot event in 2022.

Esports will not be a part of the Commonwealth Games for 2026. The inaugural Commonwealth Esports Championships were held in Birmingham, England, on August 6th to August 7th of this year. However, after this pilot event, it is reported that Esports will not return to the Games in 2026 as they travel to Victoria, Australia.

First reported by the BBC, which called the u-turn a “mystery,” the decision to drop esports from this game comes after a tumultuous initial outing. According to that report, issues around doping and drugs-testing are allegedly the reasons behind the drop.

However, it is highly likely that concerns other the event’s organizers, the Global Esports Federations, and general issues around the pilot event are more to blame. The drugs reasoning is likely a justifiable scapegoat. Especially when a major athletics organization complaining about doping in esports feels like the pot calling the kettle black.

A tumultuous first Commonwealth Esports Championships reported directly from the Commonwealth Esports Championships, and the preceding Commonwealth Esports Forum. Despite the statements from the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and Global Esports Federation (GEF) to the contrary, the Commonwealth Esports Championships struggled in numerous areas.

From poor attendance despite a dream location in the center of the host city, to issues with player accommodation, and tight schedules for transport back to said accommodation, the CEC had lots of problems. These complaints were common among multiple competitors from several countries. 

What’s more, the competitive integrity of the games could be called into question for everything except doping. These included a confusing format for several games, numerous forfeits due to visa issues, and Australia being replaced by New Zealand in Dota 2 because the latter couldn’t attend. And with almost all these issues, the blame can be placed at the feet of the organizer, the GEF.

The Global Esports Federation

The GEF is one of a number of organizations jostling to become the official “governing body” of esports, in the same ilk as a CGF or International Olympic Committee. They face competition from the likes of the International Esports Federation (IESF), World Electronic Sports Games (WESG), World Cyber Games (WCG), and others, as well as several defunct efforts. 

However, the GEF’s model for the Commonwealth Games had seemingly struggled with organizational aspects, and the basic running of an event. The GEF’s expertise was focused in the deal brokering and pitching aspect of the role. However, the organization's execution left something to be desired.

An singular legacy

And yet, despite this, the Commonwealth Esports Championships were a triumph for the participants. On the ground, and on the endemic side, the players, team staff, announcers, hosts, created something genuinely unique and fantastic out of the CEC.

There’s few chances in life to represent your country in anything, let alone esports. And every competitor spoke to was immensely proud of their achievements and participation. Regardless of whether esports ever returns to the Commonwealth games, we’ll remember the champions of the inaugural CEC.