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As interest rises in esports competitions, so has participating in online tournaments around the world and the U.S. Army is no exception. The Army has taken an active role in promoting esports for its Soldiers.

“It’s an up-and-coming thing for the Soldiers,” said Romel Voellm, director at Belvoir MWR’s Outdoor Recreation.

In November 2018, the Army formed an esports team as an outreach initiative.

“Soldiers have expressed a strong desire to represent the Army in competitive gaming,” an Army Recruiting article said. “They have shown Army leaders how gaming can help us connect to young people and show them a side of Soldiers they may not expect. This initiative will help make our Soldiers more visible and relatable to today’s youth.”

Beginning in July, the Army has held registration for its worldwide Esports Soldier Showdown, which is free. The deadline for registering for each weekly event is Wednesdays at 1 p.m. The tournament, sponsored by the Army National Guard, offers prizes and the chance to earn points toward claiming the grand prize, a VIP Experience at Complexity Headquarters in Frisco, Texas.

There are two tournaments left on the schedule, Saturday, Warzone; and Sept. 19, Fortnite.

Army MWR and Complexity Gaming partnered to form the Esports Soldier Showdown.

“We’re proud of our continued work with the Army and the Army National Guard,” Jason Lake, Complexity Gaming’s founder and CEO said in an Army MWR story. “During these unprecedented times, this program will allow Soldiers to stay connected through competition and continue to build comradery.”

It helps that esports can be done remotely as people maintain social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We understand the challenges with social distancing and the closure of certain facilities, due to the pandemic,” said Staff Sgt. Adrian Mooney, the Army’s BOSS representative. “We wanted to bring a form of entertainment that would be easily accessible to Soldiers. It is a form of entertainment that most Soldiers already have the resources for, in the comfort of their barracks or homes.”

The technology allows competitors to square off against each other without being together, while the world watches the event through a livestream.

“That’s another advantage,” Voellm said. “They can do this on their own at their leisure instead of face-to-face.”

Voellm said the base will have gaming systems in place once the BOSS building, which is undergoing renovations, is up and running.

Soldiers interested in participating in the Esports Soldier Showdown can sign up at armymwr.com/esports.