The Just Dance competition finals took place during the first-ever edition of Olympic Esports Week, which took place from 22 to 25 June 2023 in Singapore, an event announced last November by the IOC. The competition was won by France’s Amandine “TheFairyDina” Morisset often referred to as Dina, followed closely by American Joseph “Aazzlano” Coredro, in second place, and Italian Antonino “Just Nino” Pomilia, in 3rd place.
Esports in the Olympics
Olympic Esports Week was the closing of the Olympic Esports Series (OES), which had been taking place since March 1, and pitted the champions of all disciplines against each other in the finals. At this event, non-disciplinary exhibition matches were also held, pitting world Esports champions against each other in Rocket League, Virtual Table Tennis, Arena Games Triathlon, Street Fighter 6, and NBA2K23. Once again this year, the players’ Olympic performances in the finals were streamed live on numerous streaming platforms, including YouTube, allowing fans to follow their favourite finalists and comment live.
Since the implementation of the Olympic Esports Series, professional and amateur players from all over the world are invited to take part in the qualifications for the various games represented, with ten virtual disciplines ranging from archery to car racing, dance, taekwondo, tennis and sailing, just to name a few.
Of course, apart from the clear difference between Esports and regular Olympic disciplines regarding physical training, there is another major gap to consider: the rules or controls of the video game can change at any time with a patch or update. The games chosen to represent each discipline (e.g. Just Dance for dance, Fortnite for shooting, etc.) are subject to change at any time, as developers and publishers are not accountable to the IOC. Furthermore, as champion Dina Amandine Morisset explains in an interview with the Nintenbros, there can be several surprises to consider during training for these reasons: should she train with Just Dance 2023, or another game in the franchise? Which of the fifty-ish songs from each game should she be studying before her performance? The answers came late and proved an additional challenge.
Another major technical challenge: the equipment used in the training rooms was different from that used during the competition. The training rooms used computer monitors, while LED screens were used during the competition. In addition, during the competition, the console (Nintendo Switch) was located quite far from the players, which led to disconnections and interference. All this without taking into account, moreover, that competitive Just Dance players generally prefer to play on Xbox with the Kinect system than play on Switch, precisely for techical reasons. Nervousness was at its peak among the players before taking the stage for the Olympic finals. With good reason, since players reported huge and alarming score differences from their usual personal scores due to technical issues.
To learn more about the technical issues encountered during the competition, listen to Dina’s full interview with the Nintenbros!
The Just Dance final took place on June 23, 2023 from 7:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. and pitted five men and three women from eight different countries from four continents against each other. The host country, Singapore, was represented by dancer and fitness coach Siti Zhywee.
The eight finalists of the Just Dance competition were selected through invitation. These world champions competed at the Suntec Conference and Exhibition Centre on June 23. The Just Dance game has been chosen by the World Dance Federation to represent dance in the 2023 Olympic Games Esports Series.
The eight finalists were split into a one-on-one knockout bracket. The quarterfinals focused on a format known as the “One Song Challenge”, before the semifinals and finals were held in a best-of-three series. Players always get points in the game, but it was ultimately the judges who determined the winner of each game. Despite the technical problems, including lags in the tracking of movements, the finals went well, and the finalists showed energy and determination throughout the evening.
After winning the finals, TheFairyDina told Olympic reporters: ” This is for all the women that play video games, that play Just Dance. You are capable, you are worth it. This game is amazing. It changed my life in the most amazing way. I couldn’t be more proud; This is a dream. . This is for all the women who play video games, who play Just Dance. You are capable, you are worth it. This game is amazing. He changed my life in the most incredible way. I couldn’t be prouder; It’s a dream. »)
Featured photo credit @ Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images
Images and videos from the Olympic Games website.