Sports

World Chase Tag's U.S. Championships Will Be in Arlington's Esports Stadium

Clément Dumais of United, top, captures Devin Strehle of Apex Doge in a round of World Chase Tag.
Clément Dumais of United, top, captures Devin Strehle of Apex Doge in a round of World Chase Tag. Dani Devaux
One of the sweatiest and most intense esports events will hold its sixth annual championship series in Arlington.

The World Chase Tag (WCT) U.S. Championship will take place Friday, Oct. 7, through Sunday, Oct. 9, at the Esports Stadium Arlington, at 1200 Ballpark Way. Tickets for the championships, including daily and weekend passes, can be purchased through Tixr.

The WCT event in Arlington will also be broadcast in November and December in a seven-episode series on ESPN and ESPN 2.

World Chase Tag is pretty much what it sounds like. It takes the classic kids' playground game of "tag" and turns it into a thrilling, intense test of strength, agility and strategy, says WCT general manager and chief content officer Johnny McMahon.

"These guys have been doing it all their lives, since they were kids," McMahon says. "Now WCT has opened a sport that takes their talent and put them into this quad that's a simple game of 'tag' but on steroids."

Teams compete to earn the most points in a series of one-on-one matches in a 40-foot-square space filled with obstacles such as beams, bars and boards. One player serves as the chaser, and an opponent plays the evader. The evader is always on offense, and the chaser is always on defense. The only way either team can score a point is if the evader avoids being touched by the chaser in a 20-second game of "tag" in which being touched by an opponent's hand counts as a capture, according to the official rules.

Evaders can jump over, under, through and around obstacles to put distance between themselves and the chaser, but both must remain in the square at all times. If the chaser touches the evader, then no points are awarded. Ties are decided by two 20-second chases in which the team with the longest evasion time wins the match.

"There's a lot of strategy and tactics in WCT," McMahon says. "Teams that go up against each other know how the other team operates, how fast they are and how quick they are. Someone may be fast but not as nimble at getting through the obstacles, and the opposite is true sometimes too."

McMahon says strategy for each match and even the opening round of "Rock, Paper, Scissors" can get  deep.

"Even before we start the event, the teams do a 'Rock, Paper, Scissors' to see who's going to be a chaser and evader and even the team thinks there's a strategy behind 'Rock, Paper, Scissors,'" McMahon says with a laugh. "That's how these guys operate. They're very competitive athletes and it takes a certain person to go through these obstacles the way that they do."

This weekend's event will have 16 men's teams, including the Dallas-based No Cap, and four women's teams, all competing for a world championship trophy and a big cash prize. Denver's Team APEX won the International Tournament last August in London.

World Chase Tag was started in 2012 by Christian Devaux of Datchet, England. He was inspired to create the sport after watching his children play tag in his backyard. The games went from casual, intramural matches to competitive sporting tournaments within a few years, and the sport went pro after some equity partners joined the league in 2020.

WCT may be an athletic event, but it's still considered to be an esport because of its frantic nature and fandom crossover with professional esports teams. Last year, the Dallas-based Envy Gaming group entered its WCT team Envy GNF into the league.

"I always say WCT is like a physical esport mixed with an action sport without the wheels," McMahon says. "It's fast. It's quick. You have to tag a person within 20 seconds, so for somebody who's a gamer, it feels like a video game and that's how we're so complementary with esports. It just has that feel." 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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