What's The Deal With Microsoft Excel Esports?

What's The Deal With Microsoft Excel Esports?
Microsoft | Unsplash - Florian Olivo | Unsplash - Danny Howe

Written by 

Joseph Kime

Posted 

19th Aug 2022 15:30

Esports has long been decried as a silly pastime. Of course, we know otherwise, but the medium has long been challenged for not requiring the peak physical efforts that traditional sports do. Yet, we know the toll it takes on its athletes, and the immense talent and focus it takes to reach the big leagues.

Yet, serious gamers have a tendency to step away from the uber-intense battlefields of CS:GO and VALORANT. Streaming and YouTube have bolstered speedruns of the iCarly Nintendo DS game, Dark Souls using bananas as a controller, and playthroughs of Fallout 4 where the entire goal is to get laid.

Speedrunning and esports aren't afraid to get a little silly, and they're all the better for it. And now, one league is making waves in esports in the strangest way we've seen yet.

Microsoft Excel Esports Are A Real Thing

Not only have esports now stretched into even more bizarre territory, but they're getting coverage like you wouldn't believe.

The world of the Excel Esports league has broken through into the mainstream as its recent All-Star Battle was broadcast on ESPN in a replay, boasting the greatest talents that Microsoft Excel has to offer.

Of course, we're used to the bizarre, but this is a league that stands as the first of its kind, as a speedrun of a piece of office software with national coverage in the US from ESPN. It's a huge deal for esports at large, let alone this individual league - but it's slightly difficult to comprehend, as without the prior knowledge, it's hard to discern what Microsoft Excel esports actually are.

What Actually Are The Excel Esports?

The actual process of the esports league is more akin to a Game Jam than it is a traditional esports league, down mostly to the fact that Microsoft Excel is… you know… not a game.

The runs are based on individual challenges that are issued at the start of every run, making the competitive element fall to speedy problem-solving and knowledge of how the software itself works. 

For example, the games shown in the league aired by ESPN saw players develop a slot-machine game, and the second round saw them navigate a game that replicates a yacht regatta.

It's very hard to follow if you don't know an awful lot about Excel itself, but it's presented with such enthusiasm from players and casters alike that it becomes incredibly infectious. Numbers and calculations whizz by in the blink of an eye, making for an esport that's hard to process - but it's carried by the people around it. It's very much akin to Wikipedia and Geoguesser speedruns, taking a very specific concept and going bonkers making it work as an esport. And, would you believe, it's an absolute treat.

The league is a fascinating one, and though it might share a name with an actual esports league (apologies to EXCEL Esports if this really takes off), it could yet carve out a bold, exciting new legacy for itself.

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