Move over, Mobile Legends and DOTA2 — there’s a new e-sports competitive scene in town, and it’s not even based on a video game.
The humble spreadsheet software Microsoft Excel will be transformed into a competitive playing field for the Financial Modeling World Cup (FMWC) on the 8th of June, where 8 different Excel experts from across the world will be competing against one another for the top spot.
Naturally, the surprising announcement drew some raised eyebrows — and plenty of laughs — from the e-sports and wider gaming community:
Wait, is this for real?
Yes, it is. All jokes aside, the idea of a Microsoft Excel competitive scene is not a new one. For instance, the FMWC originated in 2020 as a monthly event that aims to help improve participants’ financial modeling skills through a series of challenges.
(For the uninitiated, financial modeling is the process of summarizing a company’s expenses and profits in the form of a spreadsheet, which can then be used to calculate the impact of future events faced by the company.)
Microsoft itself is also home to the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship (MOSWC), a student-based tournament that tests the Excel, PowerPoint, and Word skills of participants aged 13 to 22. The 2019 leg of the competition featured over 850,000 participants from over 119 countries, with only 6 finalists being crowned as champions.
However, the upcoming FMWC tournament is set to be the biggest of its kind. The event, which will be livestreamed on YouTube, is being advertised on popular e-sports site Smash.GG, drawing more eyes to the scene than ever before.
It also boasts a prize pool of about $20,000, which may seem paltry compared to the winnings enjoyed by more traditional e-sports players (the DOTA2 International has a $40 million prize pool, for example), but is a significant step up from the MOSWC’s $12,000.
In all seriousness, it’s pretty cool to see mainstream industries like finance embracing the e-sports world. It just goes to show that e-sports is gradually becoming a more accepted, and even celebrated, part of modern society.