Last February, U.S. Navy Recruiting Command announced its partnership with one of the world’s largest esports hosts, Dreamhack, Evil Geniuses, and ESL North America. The partnership will also include other major esports platforms, Twitch and DBLTAP, entities who are largely influential in the digital gaming culture.
The U.S. Navy and esports collaboration join the Army and Air Force branches, both who have developed their own esports teams for recruiting and morale purposes. In 2018, the U.S. Army announced its selection of 16 specialized gamers who compose the Marking and Engagement Brigade.
The Army’s esports dream team has since competed in national and worldwide titles, but similar to the Navy, ventured into partnerships with Call of Duty and Complexity to bolster military engagement and attract new recruits. Complexity arranged a digital military-style training at the Army’s base in Fort Bliss, Texas. Active-duty servicemembers performed bootcamp exercises using videogame technology.
With the proven success of the military participating in esports, the Air Force worked with Counter-Strike to sponsor teams at esport events. Past partnerships include ELEAGUE, back in 2018, which provided stage content and championship trophies.
What is Esports?
Esports, or electronic sports, is a globally recognized competitive sport performed via a videogame platform. Players organize themselves in a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), first-person shooter (FPS), fighting, card games, battle royales, and real-time strategy (RTS).
The history of esports is said to originate from the economic decline in Korea, as the unemployed flocked to video games in an effort to fill pastime. Audience popularity surged on social platforms such as YouTube and Twitch, leading to the creation of major leagues and competitive events.
In 2019 Reuters reported over 450 million esports participants worldwide. Just in North America, esports revenue racks up over $400 million. And at least 61% of esports viewers were those under 25, according to a 2018 Syracuse data source.
Military members have always been a part of the gamer community, but using these statistics is a way for branches to tap into a demographic that is valuable to the Armed Forces.
The military announces esports conventions and competitions regularly. Find resources and stay informed of past and upcoming events:
Dreamhack organizes expositions and other esports events. Dreamhack and the Navy hosted the Dreamhack Anaheim BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) event in February. The next Dreamhack is scheduled in Dallas on May 22-24, 2020.
Thousands gather to compete for the Intel Extreme Masters games. Sponsored by the electronic franchise, Intel arranges several expos around the nation and ultimately lands its final competition in Melbourne, Australia.
Penny Arcade Expo or PAX is held in several U.S. cities and Melbourne, Australia each year. It’s one of the oldest established expositions and features LAN multiplayer, tabletop, and video games. Registration includes single-day or all-weekend passes.
World Cyber Games (WCG) has been around for the last twenty years and is one of the largest festival hosts in the gaming community. Thousands flock to attend WCG festivals and expos lavishly staged through big-name sponsorships like Samsung and GameOn. WCG expanded to incorporate AI technology and introduce new and exciting innovations to the world of digital gaming.
The Military Gaming League was established by a former servicemember and offers membership to all active-duty, reserve, National Guard members, and veterans. League membership includes competitions and live streaming. There is no affiliation with the Department of Defense.
The Call of Duty League is heralded as the top esports competitive series, and it’s the most anticipated partnership with the U.S. Army in 2020. Ladders make up 12 professional teams, representing American and European markets.
League of Legends is a solo or team action-strategy game. You can monitor international circuit scores online or pay to steam competitions.
Find the latest coverage specifically reporting on up-to-date news and esport events at Esportz Network. Esportz follows major games like Overwatch, Super Smash Brothers, and League of Legends.
Esports arenas are indoor gathering spaces for competitions and festivals to take place. There are multiple arenas located around the world. In 2015, Santa Ana launched a 15,000 square foot arena, the first of its kind in North America.
Military Discount Categories
Cristina Van Orden is a literary writer and active military spouse. She holds an MFA from Antioch University and taught K-12 English before working in editorial. Cristina currently resides on base with her husband and children.