Microsoft Excel esports tournament is a real thing that exists

Feel the excitement! (Picture: Microsoft)

It may sound like a late April Fools joke but an esports tournament using Microsoft Excel is taking place and even has its own merchandise.

Esports is bigger than ever at the moment, in part thanks to the pandemic. Only recently Sega tried to get a piece of the action with its revived Virtua Fighter series but the newest challenger is something a bit different…

Microsoft already has a seat at the table with its Halo series and now another of its products will have its first ever esports tournament take place this week. But it’s not one of its Xbox or PC games. Rather it’s its Microsoft Excel and, no, that isn’t a joke.

Technically speaking, Excel itself isn’t the sport being played, but rather financial modelling, which is done using Excel. Titled the Financial Modelling World Cup – Multiplayer Battle, it will feature eight modellers from across the world duking it out.

As for what they actually need to do, the official website’s rules suggest ‘The participants will have 40 minutes to solve a case, prepared by the organising committee. The participants will be required to solve a business case through creating a financial model and answering several questions related to the model.’

At first, this sounds like some small-time independent thing, but the tournament is officially sponsored by Microsoft and is being livestreamed on YouTube. The website is even selling limited merchandise, specifically shirts, hats, and hoodies. As for the grand prize, there doesn’t seem to be one; it appears the only reward is bragging rights.

Financial modeling as an e-sport. Watch eight top financial modelers around the world work their mad #Excel skills on June 8 at 12 PM UTC. Find out more (and check out the merch):

— Microsoft Excel (@msexcel) June 4, 2021

With it being the first of its kind, it’s too early to tell how popular or successful the tournament will be. But there’s definitely some kind of audience for it. The official YouTube channel has at least 1,000 subscribers, although this isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things and doesn’t necessarily indicate how many people will watch it.

It’s difficult to imagine this sort of thing reaching the same heights as something like fighting game tournament Evo, but it’s probably best not to assume anything when it comes to the popularity of esports.

The tournament is scheduled for June 8 at 12pm UTC/1pm BST.

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