Walking into your local pub on a Saturday afternoon, the most likely thing you're going to see is a bunch of sweaty fans huddled around a plasma screen watching a football match. If you'd visited the Assembly House pub in Kentish Town last weekend, though, it was a radically different picture. Rather than football chants, the bar was filled with the on-edge atmosphere of dozens of real-time strategy fans witnessing the increasing excitement of a Starcraft II tournament.
You first reaction may be "huh?" but it's an idea that has gone down well with its supporters. Known as Barcraft, the phenomenon started in Seattle last May and has spread to the UK and Europe. The British side of this eSport invasion has already appeared in Bristol and London, and what we saw of the latter seemed nothing less than a success.
Setting up Barcraft London was not easy, with many bars declining the idea. Yet for the landlord of the Assembly House, the decision to say yes to screening Starcraft II tournaments has certainly reaped benefits. Not only are the fans of Blizzard's RTS better behaved than some traditional sport fans, but since the tournament lasts a full weekend, they remain in the pub for longer. The tournaments are also streamed online for free, meaning the pub doesn't have to pay a licence fee as with other sports.
Take a look at the video to see Barcraft London in action, and catch the reaction from the Starcraft fans who attended to view the Major League Gaming tournament.