Lets Play Live is the Pro Wrestling of eSports

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Stand up. Rapping. Improv. Wrestling. Animation. Sketch comedy. All at one event. Oh yeah, and some video games too. Lets Play Live in a nutshell.

This past Saturday, New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom was home to Rooster Teeth’s finest gamers, putting on an energetic and unique live experience. Headlining the event were Achievement Hunter, Funhaus and Cow Chop. All of them playing games that fans know as staples of their respective YouTube channels. Games like GTA IV, Gmod: Murder, Ultimate Chicken Horse, Dead by Daylight and many, many more.

The crowd cheered for the many victories, groaned and gasped at the various defeats, and booed Cow Chop. Yes, you read that right. Fans booed the people they came out to see, but don’t worry, it was all a part of the show. The Cow Chop guys were playing the heel, a professional wrestling term for the villains of that promotion. Remaining in costume and character, Cow Chop spewed anti-American jokes in their poor Russian accents, earning the audience’s disrespect throughout the show. And for me, this was the most fascinating (and unexpected) part of Lets Play Live. At one point, Cow Chop tore up some I Heart New York t-shirts and calendars, drawing out the show’s host, Jack Pattillo of Achievement Hunter. Because they broke his trust, Jack kicked “those Russian bastards” off the stage in order to get on with the show.

The heels weren’t the only ideas drafted from pro wrestling. Throughout the night, Achievement Hunter and Funhaus took on Cow Chop, crafting a narrative with their victories or losses. This culminated in a final fight in Gang Beasts, located in, appropriately, a wrestling ring. Naturally the faces (pro wrestling for heroes) won, prompting the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and a human pyramid.

The US versus Russia was a plot point for the New York iteration of the show, but the Funhaus folks have been working on an overarching storyline across multiple shows. At previous events, the crew plays Dark Souls and with each death are “punished” by Lawrence, dressed in a gimp suit. However, in New York, Funhaus got there revenge and “punished” Lawrence for each death in Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. But, as he was donning a pair of adult diapers, Lawrence was able to get revenge on his co-workers. The story is expected to continue in 2017 at the next Lets Play Live.

Lets Play Live is a show for the fans. In-jokes, games and a sense of community from the cast’s YouTube channels are all transformed and made physical when they take the stage. By taking inspiration from pro wrestling, the Lets Play family, have created a sort of “esports entertainment” that is as thrilling to watch as it is to participate. 

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Dan Berlin

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