All amateur sports fans have for generations constantly posed themselves the question: Do I have what it takes to go pro?
While the answer for 99.9% of dabblers is probably a definitive “no”, there are some naturally gifted players out there who perhaps do belong on the top stage.
However, with most traditional sports and games requiring years of dedication before people can get to the upper echelons of their chosen competitive field, there are very few fairy-tale stories of late bloomers bursting onto the scene to steal the limelight from seasoned pros.
In this article we look at the online games and eSports which are turning all that on its head, harnessing the power of online gaming platforms to quickly promote those players who have what it takes and demote those who do not cut the gaming mustard.
Here are the online games and eSports that allow general members of the public to step up and challenge their heroes, with the phenomenon becoming one of 2020’s top gaming trends.
Competing Against Grand Masters and Hardcore Grinders
Many avid gamers will have watched Garri Kaspárov or Chris Moneymaker strut their stuff at live chess and poker tournaments respectively, but few would ever have dreamed of actually coming up against them in a competition.
However, with many online gaming sites launching new games all the time, which are often open to anyone and everyone, there is a decent chance that an average punter might actually square off against an icon.
This is certainly the case with chess, where fresh-faced grandmasters such as Hikaru Nakamura regularly found at Chess.com, and Magnus Carlsen treats a fan or two to a brutal beatdown, often posting video clips of their online forays on YouTube or other social media platforms.
Meanwhile, at the poker tables, people can clearly see if they’re facing off against one of a group of elite pro players because their avatar is usually decorated with a special logo.
Indeed, gaming companies that host such tournaments rely on the presence of pros to draw more casual players to their games.
Besides card game sharks lurking in online poker lobbies, there are celebs like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whose recent team up with PokerStars India means that Indian players stand a chance of playing against one of the fiercest sports competitors of all time. He’s much better at cricket than cards though, so perhaps players can get the better of him!
Parachuting into the Arena with the Big Boys and Girls
Away from the relative calm of card tables and board games, there are millions of people logging on every day to play battle royale games such as Fortnite or Call of Duty.
The great thing about such games is that many top pros and live streaming celebs hone their skills in the same gaming lobbies that the average user frequents.
This means that having beamed a few no-hopers and having your confidence up, you can then look to take on some of the game’s really big fish, to see if you will sink or swim.
Cycling and Motor Racing are now Open to Everyone
So far, we have mainly covered games that require little or no athletic ability, but that is not to say that general members of the public cannot challenge pro athletes from sports such as road cycling to motorsports.
As far back as 2014 genuine racing teams were recruiting drivers from video games, with Jann Mardenborough winning an online Gran Turismo tournament before going on to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours race.
F1 has also started to recruit more and more drivers from the world of eSports, regularly promoting gamers onto their real-life racing rosters.
The same craze has been sweeping through pro and amateur cycling, with tournaments and competitions set up by companies such as Zwift and Bkool, pitting riders from every walk of life against the likes of Chris Froome and Edvald Boasson-Hagen.
So, pick your eSport, get practicing, and challenge the pros. Who knows, if you work hard enough, you might become one of them.