GORE-Tex Professional

Thousands Apply to Join New Army eSports Team

FORT MEADE, Md. — Over 6,500 Soldiers are already hoping to be part of a new Army esports team that will compete in video game tournaments nationwide in an effort to attract potential recruits.

“It’s essentially connecting America to its Army through the passion of the gaming community,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Jones, NCO-in-charge of the budding team.

About 30 Soldiers are expected to be picked for the team and some of the first positions could be filled this summer. Only active-duty and Reserve Soldiers are currently allowed to apply.

Those chosen will be assigned to the Marketing and Engagement Brigade for three years at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where the Army Recruiting Command is headquartered.

While they will not become recruiters, team members will receive a crash course on Army enlistment programs to answer questions from those interested in learning about the service.

Once built up, the team will fall under an outreach company that will also include an Army rock band and a functional fitness team.

Not everyone on the team will compete. Those who will may train up to six hours per day on video games, Jones said, adding that gameplay sessions would be live streamed or recorded for spectators to watch.

Esports has ballooned in popularity in recent years with millions of followers.

In August, the Washington Post reported that esports could generate about $345 million in revenue this year in North America. In 2017, a major esports tournament in China also drew a peak of more than 106 million viewers — roughly the same number of those who watched last year’s Super Bowl.

“It’s something really new and it’s been gaining a lot of steam,” Jones said.

While on the team, Soldiers will still conduct physical training, weapons qualifications and other responsibilities that come with being a Soldier. They will also have to maintain certifications in their military occupational specialty.

“Outside of that, there will be esports training,” Jones said. “So whatever game they’re playing in, they’ll not only be playing it, but be coached in it to get better.”

The team, he said, shares a similar concept to that of other Army competitive teams that continually train, such as the Golden Knights parachute team, World Class Athlete Program and Army Marksmanship Unit.

“Esports is like traditional sports,” he said. “Nobody can just walk in and expect to play at a competitive level.”

The Army, he said, already has talented gamers out there who can compete in events.

Last weekend, a few Soldiers competed at PAX South in San Antonio as a way to introduce Army esports to the greater gamer community.

In one of the events, a Street Fighter V tournament, two Soldiers placed first and second.

“This is the perfect opportunity to showcase not only to the Army, but to the civilian populace and the esports industry that we also have what it takes,” Jones said of the events.

Recruiters from the San Antonio Recruiting Battalion also joined them and were able to generate some leads with potential recruits, he added.

There are plans to do the same at the PAX East exposition in Boston in late March.

As a gamer and a recruiter himself, Jones said the team can help bridge the civilian-military gap by breaking down misconceptions some young people may have about the Army.

Being able to play their favorite video games with others who share the same passion is also a bonus.

“For a lot of Soldiers, to include myself, it’s like a dream come true,” Jones said. “This is just one of those ways we can start the conversation.”

Story by Sean Kimmons, Army News Service

Photos by SSG Ryan Meaux

24 Responses to “Thousands Apply to Join New Army eSports Team”

  1. Sasquatch says:

    This is either from the Duffle Blog, or if it’s real, there will be a cringe worthy promo reel at some point. Either way, it’s a win/win for me.

  2. PPGMD says:

    Uhhh… why? I can understand the services having shooting teams because those teams often have other duties like providing training. But what does esports bring to readiness? Or is this just a recruiting tool?

    • tm says:

      Yeah, a recruiting tool. Readiness in part means qualified people in positions that need to be filled. 30 people taken out of a force of roughly 700,000 (active/reserve) doesn’t seem like a risky investment here.

  3. Alpha2 says:

    Trying to recruit the millennials that seem to have been born with a phone or controller attached to their hand.

  4. Stefan S. says:

    E-Sports? GMAFB. Problem is kids are raised by Xbox.

    • BillC says:

      Dang kids and their Rock & Roll, it’ll be the downfall of society.
      Rock’n’Roll is the Devil’s Music! Beware, the hypnotic voodoo rhythm, a reckless dance down the Devil’s road of sin and self-destruction. Leading youth to eternal damnation in the fiery depths of Hell!

  5. Jon Demler says:

    How else would you earn your EiB or CiB?

  6. papulu says:

    E-sports is seen as a cancer in the gaming community. You think professional sports is full of entitled idiots, E-sports is worse. Look up the game awards most recent embarrassment, a Furry won best E-sports player and his speech is indicative of how terrible E-sports players are. The only people that care about it, are the game companies trying to get publicity and the players. Most people watch to laugh at the rage fests that come from entitled man children loosing at their precious video games.

    • AbnMedOps says:

      Thank you, I DID have to Google up “Furry wins award”, just to satisfy my morbid curiosity. Wow. Coming soon, to a platoon near you!

      • SamHill says:

        That furry award acceptance was one of the worst things I’ve watched in a long time.

        • papulu says:

          And this is the type of people the Army wants to represent them to the new generations. E-sports is a terrible, terrible thing in it’s current form. If you want more rage, look up fake female overwatch E-sport player.

    • jjj0309 says:

      I watched that shit on live stream. Part of me died that day. I also watched some famous ‘E-sports’ player named ninja screaming “I will get you banned” when he lost at video game.
      I don’t know which one is worse, them or the people and companies who gives those punks and weirdos spotlight and soapbox.

  7. Adam says:

    It’s smart. Gaming as a kid inspired me to join. As I grew older I’d play as a Marine in Syria or some shit.

    Few years later bam, there I am.

  8. John says:

    Will the Army supply the Doritos and Mountain Dew for them?

  9. jjj0309 says:

    I think it’s just Army adapting to digital age. New days, new recruitment marketing. I see no problem here.

  10. Marcus says:

    I have to laugh at some of the panties twisting.

    This is about activities beyond the core mission. It’s also partially about recruitment and an attempt to bring the military into the digital age.

    You can be an 11b and still be an entitled idiot. Raise your hand if you’ve never seen that, because it would be a first for me.

    Organized activities beyond the core MOS keep people engaged in their free time. Certain activities can also help sharpen your mind. Believe it or not, gaming is one of them. I understand that some outside the generation don’t get that, but it’s reality.

    Also, nobody is saying this will replace PT or training. It’s simply a realization that gaming is a popular contemporary activity.

  11. cj says:

    meanwhile in Russia, children are learning to assemble/disassemble Kalashnikov style weapons…