Jack Dilkens, 15, a Grade 9 student at École secondaire catholique E.J. Lajeunesse, is pictured at his home in South Windsor, Wednesday, May 22, 2019. DAX MELMER / WINDSOR STAR
A Windsor teen will soon compete in an e-sports world championship — and finally meet his virtual reality teammates in real life.
Jack Dilkens, 15, is a member of Team Jokr in the game Echo Arena. His team will head to the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester, U.K., in two weeks to take part in the world VR League Season 3 Championships.
Echo Arena is a virtual reality game in a zero-gravity arena akin to the battle room in Ender’s Game, where players interact with floating obstacles to move around the arena. The two teams fight over control of a disc they are trying to throw into the opposing goal to score points. Players can virtually strike each other in the head, stunning them momentarily.
On Team Jokr, Dilkens is known as “Kungg” in-game and takes on the role of goalkeeper while his team is on the defensive. He said unlike other e-sports there is something different with virtual reality.
“It’s such a physical game, you’re actually there,” Dilkens said. “You get to control your own arm so it’s more than just playing with your controller. You actually have to move and you have to be somewhat athletic to jump and duck.”
One of the strangest parts of a virtual reality game is the ability to almost physically interact with individuals on the other side of the planet. Dilkens’ teammates Ryan “RyanRhino8” Norton and Aaron “00JayWalker00” Weinberg are both from the US and the three have never actually met in person, only having played together online.
Dilkens, son of Mayor Drew Dilkens, is excited to meet his teammates in person during the tournament in Britain.
“We talk to each other almost every day,” Dilkens said. “Just getting to meet them now is amazing. It’s going to be a lot of fun since we know each other so well.”
Jack Dilkens, 15, a Grade 9 student at École secondaire catholique E.J. Lajeunesse, is pictured at his home in South Windsor, Wednesday, May 22, 2019. DAX MELMER / JPG
Team members will enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip to the event along with a parent or guardian. First place brings US$18,900, roughly CDN$25,500, to share three ways. Any team finishing in the top four receives at least US$5,400. Dilkens said if he wins he plans to save the bulk of his winnings — after buying the new version of his Oculus VR Headset.
A victory in the U.K. would add one more e-sports championship for the Windsor gaming community. This year the e-sports varsity team from St. Clair College won the national championship in Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Shaun Byrne, director of varsity e-sports at the college, is interested in possibly having Dilkens join the team.
“We were one of the first six or so colleges in North America with a VR team,” said Byrne. “Maybe this 15-year-old could be a varsity player for us in a few years.”
Byrne believes VR e-sports will only continue to increase in popularity. As prices continue to lower he can imagine one day seeing every single household with a virtual reality headset.
“VR is very interesting and primed for major growth over the next few years,” Byrne said. “It’s still very much niche within the community but it’s becoming a lot more affordable and accessible.”