Red Bull sponsors a variety of high-speed sports that include global rallycross and air racing. However, the energy drink company is also a major eSports sponsor, which doesn’t even require its players to get up from their chairs. So, it was probably inevitable that Red Bull would seek to bridge the two worlds, which is what it did with an online video series called Away From Keyboard.
Created in partnership with Team SoloMid (TSM) and Cloud9, Away From Keyboard takes these eSports athletes and pushes them beyond their comfort zones. Athletes who are used to playing in front of computer and TV screens participate in activities that range from skydiving, to doing a few laps in a rally car with professional driver Mitchell Dejong, and using teamwork to escape from a locked room.
“We knew we wanted to collaborate with our partners TSM and Cloud9 and create a different show together,” said Carleton Curtis, Red Bull’s program director for eSports, telling [a]listdaily how the idea came together. “It grew into wanting to give these eSports athletes an experience outside their day-to-day; an experience they could learn from but also help make them better athletes. From there, Away From Keyboard was born.”
Curtis also explained how many of the physical challenges were inspired by the World of Red Bull. “We turned to our amazing high-performance team to develop many concepts and we also looked to Red Bull athletes for inspiration,” said Curtis. “It was great to see each athlete come together and gain a mutual respect as experts in their fields, while also gaining fresh perspective and knowledge they could take back to their respective sport.”
The challenge for the eSports athletes mainly involved facing their fears and helping them to overcome their “lone wolf” attitudes by sharpening their teamwork skills. “The biggest challenge with skydiving for the players was that they had never done it before,” said Parth Naidu from Team SoloMid. “They had all these fears and expectations that they just had to set aside and force themselves to do it.”
“The ropes course was challenging both mentally and physically. It required us to trust each other as well as ourselves,” said Michael “FlashX” Valore, also from Team SoloMid, recounting Away From Keyboard’s toughest challenges.
“The rock wall was the more physically demanding challenge and we had to be in constant communication in order to successfully scale the wall,” Valore continued. “Because we were tethered together, whoever was further up the wall had to look back and help our teammate find the correct path when navigating upwards. We had to trust each other’s guidance and decision making to complete the task at hand in the most optimal way possible just like we do in game.
“The leap of faith was the mentally demanding challenge as we had to overcome our fear of heights and jump out trying to grab onto the ring with complete trust in our teammates that we would not drop each other. We were definitely apprehensive about being able to complete both challenges but looking back we truly gained a lot from the experience. The toughest challenge was the rock wall. Not only was it very high and we had to combat our fear of heights similar to the leap of faith but it was also incredibly physically demanding. By the end of it, my arms were dead tired and I was definitely sore from it the next day.”