Digital Games in Kazan as first step towards Russia’s return to international arena
The capital of Tatarstan hosts the third stage of the “digitised” competitions and breaks through the “transparent ceiling”
The idea to hold the “Games of the Future” originated in Kazan back in 2021, before the big political events and the suspension of Russian sports from international competitions. After the sensational victory of the Russian esports organisation Team Spirit at the Dota 2 — The International world championship in Romania, where the coach was a native of Kazan, Ayrat Silent Gaziev, the idea of organising such international tournament finally took root with the leadership of the republic. This is how the Digital Games appeared. Now the third stage is already taking place in Kazan — this time it is dedicated to esports. Read the details in the material of Realnoe Vremya.
In Kazan, they came up with how to “digitise” fights without rules, hockey, and remembered about laser tag
The history of the games is as follows — a month after the victory of The International at the celebration of the university esports team of KIU, which became the winner at the CS: GO tournament with the participation of Gaziev, an introductory video was shown to journalists, where the organisers told what the Games of the Future planned for 2024 are. Put simply, these are traditional sports that are being “modernised” with the help of technical innovations.
As a result, in November Kazan hosted the first stage of the Digital Games, where MMA fighters gathered. Athletes first fought with the help of gamepads in the famous fighting game Mortal Kombat, standing right in the ring. After virtual battles with Scorpio, Sub-Zero and Shao Kahn, the fighters began to fight live. By the way, no one was afraid of real blood there — these were far from toys.
In December, the organisers went further and organised competitions in digital hockey. At that time, professional esports athletes in the discipline NHL2022, as well as teams from the CIS, who crossed sticks on the ice of Tatneft Arena in 3-on-3 hockey, gathered in the capital of Tatarstan. As it is already clear, real ice battles intersected with confrontations on consoles in virtual hockey.
In February, the Games of the Future finally reached the most futuristic competitions — esports, which is still fighting for the right to be accepted into its ranks by more traditional sports. But even here everything is far from standard — in addition to the popular Dota 2 or CS:GO disciplines, organisers have introduced several innovations at once, which surprise even the regulars of such events.
For example, they opened the third stage of the Digital Games in the IT Park with a rather unusual competition for esports tournaments — Speedrun. The point is that professional speedrunners launch a long-running game and pass it at speed, using tricks (frames) to cut the way to the final of the game as much as possible. Those who spend the least amount of minutes and seconds to run through the game win. Kazan went further and, in addition to modern games, invited the strongest speedrunners in retro disciplines. So athletes, for example, played the legendary Super Mario or ancient races.
“In Kazan, we will see something that no one has seen abroad yet," commented popular streamer Pavel Dailyhardcore Subbotin before the start of the competition. “Here are games with retroconsole, and these are very heavy speedrans, where all the frames and actions of the characters have long been calculated. The guys will have to invent something new, and these tactics will be very interesting. In my opinion, Speedrun differs from MOBA games in that it requires even more perseverance. When you play online games, you are spurred on by your friends. But in the speedrun, you are with yourself and the table of records. You're on your own, you have to endure it.
The organisers did not stop at the quick playthroughs of the old games and decided to combine the CS: GO and Warface tactical shooter competitions with real battles in such a little forgotten fun as laser tag — players move in real mazes and try to hit each other with invisible “bullets” — sensors on the equipment fix a laser hit, and the player is eliminated. At the same time, the winner is determined by the number of rounds won both in the online shooter and in its offline counterpart “on your feet”.
Today, in the semifinals of the Russian teams HOTU and 9 Pandas, HOTU 34-26 became stronger at both platforms, but in the other semifinal between the Belarusian WINDINGO and the Argentine Websterz, the rounds had to be counted.
Kazan has managed to bring big international events back to Russia
It should be noted separately that, despite the tendency to isolate Russian sports on the world stage, Tatarstan is still looking for opportunities to promote its brand on an international platform.
For the first time, Kazan managed to break through this “transparent ceiling” through the Digital Games and bring athletes quite famous in their disciplines. More than 130 participants from 10 countries — Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia — will perform only at these three stages of the competition, which precedes the Games of the Future 2024.
Yes, there are no representatives of the “traditional West” among athletes yet, but it is significant that for the sake of this, in fact, a test event, esports athletes from the most remote corners of the planet flew to Kazan. Teams from South America, speedrunners from Asia, who are in the top 5 in their disciplines, are a big step towards ensuring that the capital of Tatarstan gradually cuts through the wall and thereby becomes a “window to Europe” for Russia.