In an apparent effort to connect with America’s youth and drive up recruitment numbers, the United States Army has announced that it will be fielding its own esports team. The announcement comes in the wake of a lackluster recruitment year, as military-centric news organization Stars and Stripes reports that the Army fell “about 6,500 recruits short” of its recruitment goal for the most recent fiscal year, and it’s now hoping to “expand its ranks to more than 500,000 in the next four years.”
The Army is of course no stranger to using video games as a way to appeal to its target recruitment demographic, as it attempted to do with the release of America’s Army in 2002, but this is its first foray into the modern esports scene. Polygon reports that “there is interest in fielding teams for Fortnite, Call of Duty, Tekken, League of Legends, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Overwatch, FIFA, the Madden series and the NBA 2K franchise.”
Although applications for the Army esports team are still ongoing, its first competition is scheduled to be a Tekken tournament on December 8th, with the winner going on to represent the Army at PAX South in January, 2019. There are also plans to build “two 18-wheeler trailers” outfitted with esports-ready gaming tech “to be hauled to college campuses around the country,” into which college esports teams “would be invited . . . to compete remotely against the Army’s esports team” stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.