Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

They've Got Game; Gaming as the World's Esport Pros Descend on London for a Tournament, Ben Travis Sizes Up the Competition

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

They've Got Game; Gaming as the World's Esport Pros Descend on London for a Tournament, Ben Travis Sizes Up the Competition

Article excerpt

Byline: Ben Travis

WATCHING other people play video games is an underappreciated pursuit. The esports boom is hitting London as the Gfinity Elite Series kicks off in Fulham today. The tournament is bringing some of the world's best pro gamers to the capital for nine weeks of competitive matches, with serious money on the line. It's the perfect way to get on board with the world of esports.

The games Each game in the Elite Series brings something different to the competition. On Fridays, it's all about Street Fighter V, the latest version of Capcom's side-scrolling brawler, where one-on-one matches promise battle-of-wills bust-ups. Saturdays bring pulse-pounding tension in Counter Strike: Global Offensive, a team-based shooter where tactical precision is key. Then on Sundays, it's Rocket League, the dizzyingly fast-paced football-meets-driving game where gravity-defying goals are the name of the game.

The teams Hoping to secure the win are eight pro teams, Infused, Reason, Excel, Prophecy, Envyus, Endpoint, Method and Epsilon (it's all about the dramatic one-word name). Each has a set of specialist players for each of the three games, ready to put their reaction times, skill and teamwork to the test.

The players Teams in the Elite Series aren't grouped by location but London finds itself well-represented. Guy Barlow, a 28-year-old south Londoner, ("Nothing to do with Gary," he insists) plays for Method under the gamer handle UK_ OldManGrump. He was drafted into the team after impressing them with his Street Fighter V skills in the Gfinity Challenger series for aspiring amateurs.

"Street Fighter's an honest game. You only win or you only lose. It's down to you," he says, talking of the pressure of heading into the pro area. He's been listening to smooth jazz while training to focus his mind. "You need to relax and practise over and over again. …

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