eSports Preview: Bantams Battle

Argyle eSports’ first season in Virtual Pro Gaming (VPG) finished with a bang on Tuesday night, when they fell narrowly short in a seven-goal thriller against promoted Mindless eSports.

The 4-3 defeat ensured a respectable sixth-placed finish for Ben Taylor’s Pilgrims in VPG League One South, but work is already going on behind the scenes to strengthen the team’s credentials next time around.

The Pilgrims’ plans to launch a second string, known in VPG circles as an Academy, were brought forward on Tuesday, with the newly-formed team thrust into a competitive league at quite short notice.

Taylor said: “We were all set up to be put into a league next season, but I was told that they would be thrown into the league now. They had six hours to put a team together – and they’ve won three of their first four, which is a nice bonus.”

Taylor, also a centre-back for the first-team, hopes that the additional side will provide more competition for places, and enhance the club’s chances of rising through the divisions quickly.

He said: “I’ll be watching most of their games. The link is strong – if we can’t fit players into our team, we allow them to keep playing for us through the Academy team. It’s a route to progress players through to the first-team, and it’s all about making us stronger for the coming seasons.”

Although the VPG League One South season is now over, the Greens are still playing competitive games in the form of the VPG English Premier league, which hosts teams affiliated to professional football clubs.

Despite taking on opponents who regularly play higher up the leagues, Argyle have made a very strong start to life in the VPG English Premier, climbing to eighth on Tuesday with a 1-0 win over Port Vale.

Taylor said: “Against Port Vale we defended well, had quite a few chances, and worked the ball well to get our goal. We didn’t really give them much of the ball and felt like we deserved the win from the start.

“We’re doing quite well in the English league, and we are very keen to do well in it. We won’t slow down, we need to look at what went wrong in the League One season and keep improving.”

On Thursday night, the Pilgrims face one of their sternest tests yet, in the form of league leaders Bradford City eSports, who have won 10 of their opening 11 fixtures.

Taylor said: “They are top of the league, and they’ve only lost once. I’m looking forward to it, though. Port Vale were going quite well, and we beat them, which is a confidence boost.

“Like I said in the past, we do better in the bigger games, as we’ve shown in this league so far. Hopefully, tonight, we can do that again.”

Argyle eSports kick-off against Bradford City in the VPG English Premier at 8pm BST, and you can watch it live on our Facebook and Twitch channels.

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