There’s a spicy Overwatch clip making its rounds online. As the enemy team retreats, one player activates D.Va’s Self Destruct just as his teammate, playing Symmetra, puts a perfectly placed Teleporter right in front of him. This sends D.Va’s exploding mech into the unexpecting enemy’s backline, resulting in a hype quad kill.
This wasn’t the Vancouver Titans, or the San Francisco Shock. In fact, it’s not a clip from an Overwatch League team at all.
It’s actually a clip from the U.S. Army’s esports team. The D.Va is their tank player, Czarcas7ic, and the Symmetra is MageOW, a Symmetra main and streamer.
On Twitter, the US Army’s esports account appropriately calls it a “200 IQ play,” jokingly putting “git gud” as a hashtag.
The US Army’s esports team
Although the internet seems shocked by the US Army’s Overwatch skills, esports are nothing new to the them.
Esports were introduced to the US Army in 2008 when John Talaske helped launch the Warrior Zone Program. This had video games added to the army’s recreation centers, something Talaske wanted ever since the Fort Lewis Counter-Strike server gained popularity.
“We let people know that they would be playing with real soldiers,” Talaske told Shoryuken last year. “The program grew and started to generate challenges from other ‘clans’ both civilian and military. We also contacted the folks from the game ‘America’s Army’ to create a server and become an official host so that civilians could play with our teams.”
Since then, fighting games have become the most popular game of choice in the US Army. Under the Warrior Zone Program, the US Army has competed in many Street Fighter tournaments. They also play Call of Duty and Overwatch competitively. Their team has even won Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournaments.
Talaske continued, “the soldiers work hard, and deserve the best in their off-time. We also build a social environment in the facility so that it is more than just playing a game. The program focuses on getting soldiers to work together to form teams, build strategies, and support each other.”
The Military and its relationship with esports
The US Army isn’t the first military force to take an interest in esports and competitive gaming. Earlier this year, the Danish Defense took an interest in Astralis. After testing the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team’s reaction times and hand-eye coordination, the Danish armed forces concluded that they needed more gamers in the Danish Defense.
And this wasn’t for just any role. The Danish Defense were looking for gamers to participate in their flight leader program, thought to be their most competitive and difficult. They have since teamed up with Esports Denmark to find more worthy applicants.
Last year, the US Air Force became a Cloud9 sponsor for similar reasons, with a focus on its CSGO team.
Maj. Ross McKnight, chief of the National Events Branch at the Air Force Recruiting Service Headquarters discussed the move. “The partnership will provide an opportunity to create engaging and relevant content in the esports space and to show Cloud9 fans some of the ways in which they can make a difference in the U.S. Air Force,” he said.