The South Korean army hosted and streamed an Overwatch tournament for its members called the Soldier 76 Tournament, the final matches of which took place Monday.
The tournament was announced Sept. 29 on the official YouTube channel for Overwatch Korea, with each team being made up of six players from each of the army’s 30 divisions. The field of players included Ham “Hamtol” Yu-rim, a former professional player for Flash Lux who is in the army’s 20th division, and a number of players who were in the Grand Master tier of play on the Korean ladder.
The army divisions were fighting it out for a chance of vacation time directly from the army’s chief of staff, which went to the top three divisions in the tournament. The champions of the tournament were the 12th army division, the runner-up was the 26th division, and third place was the 25th division.
The tournament was part of the 15th annual Korean Army Festival, and had the K-Pop group Nine Muses play an Overwatch show match and perform for the tournament. The matches were live streamed through the streaming platforms of Naver, SpoTV, and Twitch. Viewership of the event steadily grew as word-of-mouth spread, with the community vote for best performing player consistently going to the highest ranked player on the team.
The 21-month military service time is mandatory in South Korea for all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 to 35, while citizens are able to choose when they serve.
Given the age group of the South Korean military, esports is a popular pastime for many of the members to the point where the Korean military had to ban the channels for OGN and SpoTV in 2015 at military bases after complaints of members “leaving the gaming channels on all day.”