Intel have announced a partnership with ESL and Oculus to launch an eSports league dedicated to VR gaming, featuring Oculus Rift titles The Unspoken and Lone Echo‘s multiplayer counterpart Echo Arena.

It’s official, sitting around watching other people play games is a big deal among hardcore gamers these days and while, right now, the vast majority of those games are played competitively using a monitor, mouse and keyboard, Intel, ESL and Oculus want to accelerate the progression of immersive eSports with their latest initiative, the “VR Challenger League”.

The new event, offering a prize pool of over $200,000, will comprise two VR titles that were both conceived with competitive play in mind. The first is Insomniac’s excellent magical dueller The Unspoken. The game is focused on 1v1 magical duelling and has the player use the Oculus Touch motion controllers to perform magical gestures to create and throw projectiles and cast special attacks.

Next up is Echo Arena, the multiplayer counterpart to the forthcoming Oculus Rift exclusive Lone Echo set in space, featuring some impressive contextual animation and zero-G locomotion which opens the door to some unique tactile gameplay opportunities. Road to VR’s Frank He went hands on with the multiplayer mode at last year’s Oculus Connect 3 event. Here’s a snippet of what he had to say of his experience:

We would move around in zero gravity either with thrusters, or by grabbing, pulling, or pushing ourselves on our way with the help of walls or floating geometry (or even teammates or enemy characters). We’d be vying for a glowing disc in the middle of the Ender’s Game Battle Room-style arena (though it wasn’t nearly as big). Then we’d have to grab the disc and throw it into the holographic goal at the end of other team’s side.

A final piece of the puzzle was a punch you could do only to opponents’ heads to briefly stun them, preventing them from being able to move and hold the disc. You could also grab and climb onto bodies, so a common maneuver would be to grab onto a limb, clamber up, punch them in the face, and snatch the disk right from their hands, then give yourself a shove off of their stunned body to head toward the goal.

You’ll be able to qualify for the offline events by taking part in the online competitions which are set to start on July 12th on ESL Play. As well as the VR Challenger League qualifiers, you’ll also be able to “challenge yourself in our weekly ESL Play cups”, where you can compete for weekly points and prize money.

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If you’re interested in taking part, head over to ESL to create an ESL Play account so you’re primed and ready to take part when the league kicks off next month.

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Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.