The British Army has officially launched its E-Sports league, where soldier gamers will compete from their homes during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The event, originally meant to take place on London's Oxford Street, saw the Royal Engineers kick-start the league against the Royal Signals on 'Counter-Strike: Global Offensive', before the best from the service took on the Royal Air Force in a friendly clash.
More than 25,000 tuned in to the live-streamed launch of the Lions League, watching the players take to the battlefield.
Competing on the war game, players demonstrated the levels of cohesion and precision the military wants to preserve throughout social distancing measures.
The soldiers coming together to form the league are doing so outside of their day jobs, some at the forefront of the COVID response (including the Nightingale hospital build) on higher readiness or completing specialist training.
Some are part of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, "busy servicing and maintaining" vehicles the Royal Logistics Corps are using to deliver medical supplies all over the country, according to Corporal Tyler Daysh – a Royal Engineers and Army gamer.
"Without the worries of social distancing, players are able to engage with their work mates and still be part of that 'family'," he added.
"People do not feel as isolated while they are online, still 'meeting' their friends in an online environment and completing games together as avatar characters."
Cpl Daysh said, whilst the pandemic restrictions are keeping the "family" miles apart, online engagement also allows section commanders to ensure junior members aren't "losing their standards" at home.
On the day, it was the Royal Signals who got off to a winning start in the league, before the Army side got came away with a victory from their RAF fixture.
The RAF has been able to open a station eSports centre enabling airmen to hone their skills.
The Army has been calling for gaming enthusiasts to come together in one place under an official structure for a number of years, social distancing restrictions highlighting the demand for a common battleground.
While the Army has a highly ranked 'Counter-Strike' team, the RAF eSports already has an association, with more players playing a wider range of games.
Civilian gamers have been targeted in previous recruitment campaigns, offering the Army the dexterity, problem-solving and technological skills required in a changing military landscape.
With the cancellation of this month's Insomnia gaming festival, military players will continue to compete from their homes and engage as wide an audience as possible.
Looking forward, Cpl Daysh says the focus is to "amplify through social media and engage with the esports community, and focus on making our fans and followers proud by winning leagues and tournaments".
Cover image: LCpl Karl Mensforth representing the Royal Signals team during the launch (Picture: LCpl Karl Mensforth).