In the west, the slightest sniff of mainstream acceptance is enough to set the esports hot take engine churnin'. We tend to get a little caught up on the idea that legitimacy is waiting to be handed out by ESPN, the Olympic committee, the government, and so on. Spoiler: it isn't, and esports wouldn't need it even if it did.
Things are different in Asia—often, spectacularly so. The South Korean StarCraft scene has long looked like a vision of what mainstream esports might look like in the rest of the world in ten years. Widespread popular and insitutional support for esports in China account for the strength of that country's teams and organisations.
Even so, it doesn't get much more legit than the Mayor of one of the world's largest cities dressing up as a League of Legends character in order to support Taiwan's two World Championship contenders, FlashWolves and ahq e-Sports club. If you're wondering why Mayor Ko Wen-je chose to dress up as Surgeon Shen, then it's probably because he was a professor of medicine and a surgeon prior to becoming Taipei's first independent Mayor in 2014.
He's also accompanied by an enthusiastic man in a Winnie the Pooh necktie. I do not know whether or not the enthusiastic man in a Winnie the Pooh necktie is, or has ever been, a surgeon.
Here's an English translation of the video, courtesy of redditor SilentStride:
Announcer: Shen! It's you!
Ko Wen-je: Shen? Where's the kidney? (Shen and kidney is pronounced the same way in Mandarin.)
Ko Wen-je: You might as well call me liver! I'm Ko Wen-je!
Ko Wen-je: I heard that there are esports players leaving Taiwan to compete internationally.
Annoucer: Yes that's riiiight!
Ko Wen-je: League of Legends World Championship.
Announcer: Huh? You know this too?
Ko Wen-je: To be honest I'm an esports Pro too. But I play new Solitaire. (New Solitaire esports pro Ko Wen-je).
Ko Wen-je: I'm very happy to see Taiwan's eports players shine brightly in their own field of expertise. The government's power is limited, but The Power of the People is infinite.
Ko Wen-je: Against powerful enemies, there's no need to be afraid. Come to my side, I'll give you SUPPORT!
Ko Wen-je: Look at my "Stand United"! Let's go Taiwan esports!
(Announcer talks about free streaming location in Taiwan)
Ko Wen-je: Phew, carried another game.
I'd normally argue that the esports industry shouldn't chase mainstream acceptance—but if it means more politicians dressed as internet videogame wizards, then sign me up.
The World Championship group stages begin tomorrow in Paris. Check out our massive preview for the lowdown on the teams and their chances.