© Katya Mokolo/Red Bull Content Pool
6 must-see esports documentaries you can’t afford to miss
There's more to elite gaming than fast reflexes and big prize money. These exceptional docs present the world of esports like you've never seen it before.
As childhood dreams go, getting paid to play video games must surely rank up there with 'waterslide tester'.
Quite a lot has changed since the days you wrote your career prospects in crayon, of course, and the subsequent rise of esports has meant that thousands of players now call gaming their 9-5.
But how much do you really know about this billion-dollar industry? What risks do you have to take in order to become a pro gamer? What happens behind the scenes when a team disbands on the eve of a major tournament with millions of dollars on the line? And how the hell did we get here?
To answer these questions and more, here's a guide to some of the most fascinating esports docs available to watch right now...
1. Playing Fields
Playing Fields is a brilliant docuseries exploring Japan's virtual landscape to find out exactly what makes the country such a cornerstone of video game culture. First up, esports, as the filmmakers kick things off with a closer look at the fighting game scene, where the likes of Daigo 'The Beast' Umehara and Kana 'Tanukana' Tani explain why there really is no place like home.
For the latest episode of Unfold, a series which delves deep into what life is like away from the spotlight for the biggest esports stars, Hunter of CS:GO outfit G2, opens up about his humble beginnings in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina and how it shaped him to become the player he is today. From playing at his parent's internet cafe to being encouraged by his cousin (and now fellow G2 player) Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač, he also introduces many of the friends and family who still push him on today. A life-affirming watch.
3. Wreck or Get Rekt
Wreck or Get Rekt
If you thought the trash-talk between the characters of Street Fighter was a little close to the bone, try the verbal sparring between Americans ThatDemoGuy and Quinton, two rival fighting game players who compete for ultimate bragging rights in this film and aren't shy in expressing it. A world away from the packed arenas of Red Bull Kumite, their match-ups take place in boisterous backrooms and vibrant cafes, taking the game right back to its arcade roots.
4. Against The Odds
Against the Odds
Charting the biggest fairytale in esports history, Against the Odds is an all-access look at how Team OG came back from rock bottom to win The International 18. Going into the event with a team who had never played together – including a former coach drafted in at the last minute – and given no chance by casters and fans alike, this ragtag Dota 2 outfit went on to lift the biggest prize of all, defying everyone's expectations. Good luck removing that smile that's set to be plastered on your face.
5. Conquest Road Trip
Sometimes it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. To tie in with Red Bull Conquest, America’s foremost regional fighting game series, pro gamers Anakin and Snake Eyez embarked on a road trip to a number of US cities, stopping off at local fighting game communities along the way and meeting with gamers on the ground. And no, they didn't encounter any bison...
6. The Art of Street Fighting
The Art of Street Fighting
Another one for the Capcom heads, The Art of Street Fighting is a riveting film about the biggest players on today's Street Fighter V scene. Speaking to the likes of Luffy, Xiao Hai, Tokido, Gamerbee, and of course the Beast himself, Daigo, as they gear up for Red Bull Kumite, it lays bare mental and physical hardships, fractious rivalries, insider slights (see: NuckleDu’s teabagging) and precisely what goes into being one of the world’s elite.