It seems like everyone wants to get in on the eSports gig these days. It's being promoted as a lucrative, burgeoning market for enthusiasts and investors, much in the same way as virtual reality. The big difference is that eSports already has a built-in audience, whereas VR tried to establish one. With that being said, the growth of eSports has been rapid in the last several years, with games like Street Fighter V and Overwatch leading the way when it comes to trying to break through to mainstream audiences. Picking up on the momentum that Capcom has managed to build over the last couple of years with Street Fighter V is the U.S. Army. Yes, the U.S. Army is getting in on the eSports digs with a Street Fighter V tournament.
Over on the official Army website there's an article from the Army Entertainment division, part of the U.S. Army's Installation Management Command, who will be hosting a world-wide eSports championship series for Street Fighter V. It's an open invitation to active duty service members both male and female alike, who would like to prove that they have what it takes to be the best of the best in virtual fisticuffs.
The fighting game tournaments will be live-streamed through the Army's Twitch.tv channel on a series of dates from different bases, including Fort Bliss on July 28th; from Fort Gordon on August 11th; Joint Base Lewis-McChord will have a stream up on August 18th a week later; and Fort Wainwright will host a tournament on August 25th at the end of next month.
Recognized FGC commentators will be on hand to provide commentary for the fights taking place across the tournament series, and they will be accompanied on the mic by Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Jones from the Military Police who is both an avid gamer and working as the Hammond La. Station Commander for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command.
Additionally, there will be some online giveaways taking place leading up to the finals, which will take place during PAX this fall. Those who participate in the giveaway will actually be able to earn some sweet swag out of the whole ordeal, including a $500 gift card, an Army Entertainment Esports jersey, exclusive Twitch gaming gear, and a two-night stay at the Mandalay Bay MGM resort.
There has been some push back against the idea that eSports competitors are considered athletes, but most recognize that this is a skill-based field and that not just anyone can pick up the controller and become one of the best in the world. It takes time, dedication and a lot of effort. It appears as if Capcom is upgrading its efforts to spread the word about Street Fighter V, and the American army is getting in on it.