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TECH & GAMING

Now is the time to get into eSports

Words by Nathan Irvine

Celebs and sports stars are flocking to video games for their competitive sports fix. And you should too.

As the world of sport grinds to a halt due to coronavirus, there's a competition that's still going strong. In fact, eSports is having its moment in the mainstream spotlight and is currently surprising and delighting new viewers.

Competitive video gaming has been around since Donkey Kong threw his first barrel in 1981. There’s a very entertaining movie based on that old arcade classic called King of Kong. Over time the pursuit evolved into what we have now – eSports.

Although hardcore gamers gather in their millions to watch competitions online, it’s still dismissed by sports purists. But it feels like there’s a sea change coming thanks(?) in part to being stuck in isolation. Oh, and the fact that celebs and actual sports stars are flocking to eSports too.

EA Sports FIFA 20 is finding a brand new audience thanks to lockdown.

Virtual playing fields

Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, Manchester United’s Luke Shaw and Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek are just three names that will compete against each other on FIFA 20. It’s all part of the #combatcorona drive that aims to raise money for charity and will see these pro footballers put their gaming skills to the test in front of thousands of viewers.

Spanish football’s La Liga recently completed its own FIFA 20 tournament too. Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio beat Leganes’ Aitor Rubial to lift the virtual cup as fans tuned in to watch it all go down.

Away from football, the F1 held a celeb-filled race online too. The real-life sport has been postponed for the foreseeable future, but that didn’t stop the Bahrain GP going ahead in the digital realm recently. Former F1 driver Nico Hülkenberg was joined on the grid by golfer Ian Poulter, cycling star Sir Chris Hoy and ex-One Direction-er and current solo artist Liam Payne. It was quite the turn out.

Digital gateway

Apart from the celebs, the other thing that is tying this all together is how fun and exciting it all is. You might not be able to find eSports on network television these days, but you can watch it on your smartphone, tablet or computer. So you never have to be glued to the sofa to see all the action.

The best part about eSports is how varied it is thanks to the hundreds of games it covers. Virtual sports games are going to be the most appealing to casual viewers, but that’s just scratching the surface.

Shooters such as Fortnite and Counter Strike: GO are often tense yet excellent to watch. Street Fighter is seemingly played on a different plain as competitors light each other up with complex moves. And even something as confusing as League of Legends makes for entertaining viewing thanks to the shoutcasters (read: commentators) that provide colourful language to describe the action.

With traditional sports sat on the side-lines, there’s never been a better time to get into the world of eSports.

Get clued up on eSports with this incredible handy guide.

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