We saw the UK and France face off to defend their undefeated records in the Overwatch World Cup, competitive gaming’s answer to the global football tournament

It’s a Friday morning in late September and 2,000 fans are packed into the underground arena of La Grande Arche de la Défense, ready for the Paris stage of the Overwatch World Cup. It’s a fairly mixed-gender crowd, predominantly young adults, mostly French, many wearing game-themed clothing. Overwatch is one of the world’s most popular competitive video games: matches are fast-paced, chaotic battles between two teams of six players. Using colourful characters with outlandish powers, they take turns to attack and defend objectives. Fights can be over in seconds or turn into minutes-long scraps. The sense of unpredictability makes for very exciting viewing.

The Overwatch league works like football’s Premier League, with teams signing players across nationalities, but the Overwatch World Cup evokes a sense of home pride among viewers. Each of the Paris leg’s 15 matches had their share of intense moments as national teams fought for the two remaining places at the finals, which will take place later this month in Burbank, California. The US city hosted a previous group stage, as did in Incheon, South Korea and Bangkok, Thailand.

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