ESports: Welsh video gamers head for Commonwealth Games

By Dafydd Morgan
BBC News

  • Published
John JacksonImage source, British eSports
Image caption,
John Jackson is excited about the future of video gaming

"It's massive. This is an opportunity for eSports to overflow into the mainstream media."

It is clear John Jackson is looking forward to the Commonwealth eSports Championships taking place in Birmingham this weekend.

Short for electronic sports - it allows people to compete at video games.

ESports is being piloted at the Commonwealth Games for the first time this year, with the tournament taking place on 6 and 7 August.

Mr Jackson, who is Wales team manager and chief executive of eSports Wales, hopes the event will showcase new talent.

Peachy Bell, 22, from Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, is part of the team - she has been gaming since 2018 and has completed about 3,000 hours of game time.

It may sound like a lot, but not when you consider pros have amassed tens of thousands of hours.

Image source, British eSports
Image caption,
Video gamers hope to one day join the Olympics movement

"I never though it would be like this. They were like you 'never know one day it might at the Olympics'," she said.

"That is so weird. It is a weird concept but it's becoming more normalised now.

"You used to have events just for eSports and not joining in with more physical activities, it is a bit crazy.

"I think it's definitely a good thing. People judge you when you say 'I want to play this professionally' but if you have things like the Commonwealth behind you, then it becomes a more viable thing that people want to get into professionally."

Image source, British eSports
Image caption,
Peachy Bell is one of the Welsh stars

Looking to the future, Mr Jackson hopes that the eSports pilot will be a success, and that the sport will become a permanent fixture in the sporting calendar.

"I think it's massive. At the moment this is the first one, the Commonwealth. Hopefully going forward we'll get involved in the Olympics," he said.

He is also known as Slayer John in the eSports world, and believes it is about attracting new players to the sport and giving them something to aim for.

"It's about building that aspiration, getting players to think they can play for Wales. Like you would have someone doing athletics, and in four years' time, they get to represent their country if they work hard enough. It's a case for having that for the gamers and eSports players and going 'this is the route for us'.

"One of the things with it being a country, and representing your country, it allows a lot of people to get involved, to get behind your team."

He said it "Wales, it's England, it's Scotland, it's Ireland", adding: "You know these, you've watched the rugby, you've watched the football."

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