Six Marines have volunteered for a temporary esports team to compete in an online video game tournament, the Marine Corps confirmed.
This “quick reaction force” is set to compete in Friday’s second annual Call of Duty Endowment Bowl, a spokesperson said in an email to Marine Corps Times on Tuesday. The event will be streamed live on the Call of Duty Twitch and YouTube channels beginning at 10 a.m. Pacific.
The tournament marks the first time in 245 years the Marine Corps will stand up a quick reaction force for esports as it competes against other military branches’ teams in the newly released Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, according to a press release.
An esports team of Marines did recently compete against civilian players in a July online tournament hosted by the Esports Stadium Arlington in Texas, which serves as North America’s largest dedicated esports facility. The event offered players from across the country an opportunity to play Call of Duty: Warzone online with active-duty Marines.
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Sgt. Brian Kunst participated in that event and will be representing the Marine Corps in Friday’s tournament. He was one of 70 Marines who volunteered to represent the Marine Corps in the tournament. The four primary and two supporting Marines were selected based on overall competitive performance, the Marine Corps said. Three are staff sergeants and three are sergeants.
Though the six Marines participating are from the Marine Corps Recruiting Command, the Corps reiterated it has no plans to form a permanent esports team, and doesn’t want to be seen as gamifying the professional interactions young people expect when working with Marine recruiters, Capt. Michael Maggitti, director of the Corps’ esports and gaming efforts, said in an email to Marine Corps Times.
“Most readers assume all military branches now have full-time esports teams; that is not the case with the Marines,” Maggitti said. “We are still active within the gaming ecosystem and will continue to add value where it makes most sense for the participants but recognize an official esports team is not a tactic we want to deploy at this time.”
The Marine esports quick reaction force will be disbanded once this competition is over, but could be used again in future gaming events, the Marine Corps said.
Until recently, the Army was the only branch with an official esports team, which initially was formed under its marketing and recruitment efforts. The Air Force has taken a different approach, by first building video game lounges at bases across the country and forming interservice teams for competition, but plans could be in the works to form an esports team for competition, the Air Force told Military Times in November. The Navy also recently formed its own esports team.
The above branches and the Space Force will be competing in Friday’s online tournament, as will counterparts in the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy, Army, and Air Force. The U.S. Coast Guard will not be represented at the event.
Friday’s C.O.D.E. Bowl will be the first trans-Atlantic esports competition pitting the military services against one another, according to organizers.
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Jared is a freelance journalist, a former Marine and a veterans advocate living in Los Angeles.