Canada’s St. Clair College competes in first-ever Commonwealth Esports Championships

It’s a game that’s described as “soccer, but with rocket-powered cars,” and a team from Windsor, Ont., is so good at it, they’re representing Canada at the first-ever Commonwealth Esports Championships in England this week. 

St. Clair College’s Rocket League team will compete against seven other countries, including England, Kenya, India, Jamaica, Wales, Australia and South Africa, at the inaugural event in Birmingham, England. 

“We’re very confident going into the games,” said Josh “Comp” Byrne, speaking to CBC’s Windsor Morning from across the pond. 

“It’s feeling really good. Our atmosphere is really nice. But yeah, overall we’re just confident going into this week.”

The team secured their spot to represent team Canada in the inaugural championship after winning big at The Gaming Stadium’s Rocket League Open event in April.

Rocket League is a multi-player, arcade-style video game that’s grown in popularity. 

“It’s easy to pick up,” said Ben “Spoods” Talbot, who is also on the team. 

“A lot of youth sports are hard to get into because it’s sort of abstract, difficult to understand if you don’t play video games. But Rocket League having a sort of sports aspect makes it easier to watch.”

LISTEN | Hear more from the Saints as they prepare to compete in England

Windsor Morning7:33St. Clair Rocket League team

Ben ‘Spoods’ Talbot and Josh ‘Comp’ Byrne, Rocket League players, speak with CBC Windsor Morning host Nav Nanwa about playing at the Commonwealth Esports Championship.

Byrne said he never thought he’d be playing esports at the college level, let alone in a championship representing Canada, but said he’s glad esports and players are getting recognition. 

“We sit on a chair, we play a lot, but it’s a big mental toll for sure,” he said.  “That’s where it gets you.”

Talbot said competing in the games is like fulfilling his dream of being like Sidney Crosby in the Olympics.

“Commonwealth Games is sort of closely aligned with an Olympics-type-style event, so for us, to be able to bring esports to it is huge,” said Talbot. 

“I think going forward, having a pioneer approach to this, I hope if it goes well and you know, viewership is good, that they can expand into different games, and it’s been unbelievable. The experience has been great.”

The Commonwealth Esports Championships are from Aug. 3 through Aug. 7.

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