JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – Gaming is important for Pvt. First Class Kevin Sanchez Claudio and Sgt. Austin Demeuse.
The two Soldiers are currently atop the leaderboard for Soldier Showdown V, the multi-title, cross-platform esports tournament conducted by the Army Entertainment Esports program, which falls under the U.S. Army Installation Management Command’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Directorate.
The tournament is open to active-duty U.S. Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserves and active-duty military stationed at Army-led joint bases. USAA is providing presenting sponsorship support, with prizes provided by Army MWR and the Exchange.
“It’s a way to unwind and connect with friends,” said Sanchez, a network communications systems specialist who is currently in Advanced Individual Training at Fort Gordon, Georgia. “It’s a means of relaxation and a chance to engage in competitive experiences. For Soldiers, especially those involved with the Better Opportunities for Single Solders program, gaming can offer a sense of camaraderie, stress relief and a platform to develop valuable skills.”
Demeuse said he has been gaming as long as he can remember. It has been an escape from tumultuous times – such as enduring a divorce this past April and the 2019 death of his childhood best friend Cody – in his personal life.
“Gaming was always something Cody and I did together,” said Demeuse, a petroleum supply specialist at Fort Carson, Colorado. “We played games such as Call of Duty: World at War to Fortnite. Now I’m just kind of carrying it on. It brings back the memories, and it’s kind of an escape from reality.”
Soldiers have been competing head-to-head in titles such as APEX and Fortnite during July and August. September features Call of Duty: Warzone.
The top 12 who compete in all three games with the most points after Sept. 30 will win a trip to the finals at Complexity Headquarters in Frisco, Texas, during the last week of November to compete against each other for the title of the best overall Battle Royale gamer in the U.S. Army.
Presently, Sanchez Claudio, whose gamer name is KSANSENPAI as a way to reflect elements of his personality, interests and creativity, is leading Soldier Showdown V, thanks to his prowess in Apex Legends, a battle royale-hero shooter game whose competitive nature and strategic game play appeal to Sanchez Claudio.
“It keeps me engaged and challenges me to improve my skills constantly,” Sanchez Claudio said. “Those skills often translate well into my military training and responsibilities.”
Both are looking forward to competing in Frisco at the end of November.
“I’m a very, very competitive guy,” said Demeuse, whose nickname is Moose and whose gamer name is Ehwapiti, or elk. “I thrive off these custom tournaments.”
Sanchez Claudio echoes that sentiment.
“I’m confident in my abilities, and I look forward to giving it my best shot,” Sanchez Claudio said. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase skills honed both in gaming and the military.”
Staff Sgt. Cody Mackall, the Department of the Army’s BOSS representative, is an avid gamer himself, competing as CheesyGrunt. Gaming has allowed him to reach out to Soldiers and forge lifelong bonds.
“I find it remarkable that even from my tenure as a specialist, the bonds formed in online remain steadfast, showcasing that esports intertwines seamlessly with our leadership narrative,” Mackall said. “Just as we forge mental acuity and strategic finesse on the battlefield, esports constructs a virtual arena where our mastery of strategy sharpens, collaborative synergies amplify, and unyielding resilience thrives.”
Learn more and register for the Army Entertainment Esports Soldier Showdown V presented by USAA at https://www.armymwr.com/esports