Teams from Amazon, Microsoft battle on StarCraft in After Hours Gaming League

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Redbull studios – StarCraft 2 finals. Microsoft player is the one facing the camera.

It’s not uncommon for company employees to organize teams for recreational sports leagues. Participating is a good way to leave the work environment, get the competitive juices flowing and bond with your colleagues.

Some of us, though, may not want to get out on the field, but still would like a way to get some competition in.

Enter the After Hours Gaming League.

“We call AHGL a fun, modern twist to the traditional recreational softball league,” said Microsoft software developer and AHGL administrator Emily Yan.

afterhourslogoAHGL is a charity gaming league run by volunteers and designed for companies to play against each other in StarCraft 2 and League of Legends. Employees from companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Twitter and IBM face off in what is actually a highly competitive environment.

“League of Legends is a team game, so the Microsoft team had regular evening practices throughout the week,” Yan said.

Weekly matches on Sunday are streamed to the world via Day[9] for about three months and the season concludes with a month-long, single-elimination playoff tournament at the end. Winning teams donate $5,000 to a charity of their choice.

Sean “Day[9]” Plott created AHGL in 2011 and it started out with eight teams playing StarCraft 2. AHGL’s popularity quickly grew, with 40 teams competing in Season 2 as League of Legends was added.

Season 4 saw more than 80 teams compete among four leagues. Microsoft ended up beating Amazon in the StarCraft 2 finals, while Google ousted Amazon in the League of Legends bracket.

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Google (left) and Amazon duke it out at the RedBull headquarters for the League of Legends finals.

“Even though we’re working professionals, we all still like to have fun, and this is a way where our game-playing skills can be put to a good [charitable] cause,” Yan said. “Additionally, a lot of us watch the professionals play, and it’s fun to have a small taste of that experience with casted games and competing for a purpose.”

Competitive gaming — also known as eSports — was a relatively small scene for a while, but its popularity is certainly on the rise. Organizations like the AHGL are a great way for “amateur” gamers to get in on the fun.

Previously on GeekWire: Watch live: $1M on the line at Call of Duty Championships

  • He’s a ninja!

    who is that handsome guy standing behind the booths?

  • Joshua French

    I think you mean season 3 instead of season 4. Got me a little excited for the next one :-)