Well, East me Enders and Pano my Rama: live Esports is coming to to the BBC this month. BBC Three (which is now online only) will broadcast the new Gfinity Elite League Series One, which means four hours of Rocket League, CS:GO and Street Fighter V on iPlayer every weekend for the next six weeks.
There’s a proper schedule and everything: Fridays at 9pm is for Street Fighter, which in a massive programming screw up clashes with Gardener’s World. Saturday nights from 9-11 is CS:GO (no Casualty for me then), and Rocket League is happening Sunday afternoon from 5. It’s all coming live from the Gfinity Arena in West London, with eight organisations taking part.
There’s a couple of big boys in there, with Method, Endpoint and EnVyUs competing with some lesser-known squads. All of the teams are required to draft players from the Challenger Series, a recurring online tournament that anyone can sign up to for free in the hope that they stand out and get snapped up by an organisation.
The coverage is starting four weeks into the tournament, and UK veterans Team Infused are looking the strongest so far. There’s £225,000 up for grabs every week, and then at the end of ten weeks one organisation is crowned the overall winner alongside three individual game champions.
When they say it’s a “first of its kind” for the BBC that’s not really true: the broadcaster showed the 2015 League of Legends World Championships. I’m surprised they haven’t mentioned that, actually, because they did a pretty good job of it, attracting 137,000 unique viewers and scooping up a Broadcast Digital Award 2016 for the coverage. So, I’m expecting big things!