Microsoft Excel Esports?

posted by Jason Kottke May 04, 2023

Microsoft Excel is an extremely powerful, complex, and useful software program that millions of people know how to use, at least a little bit. For those who are experts, there are now esports competitions in Microsoft Excel that pit the best spreadsheet jockeys against each other. Here's what that looks like:

It's....a little confusing to watch if you aren't that good at Excel yourself. From a piece in the Atlantic late last year:

Yes, we are talking about people competing in Microsoft Excel, the famous (and famously boring) spreadsheet software that you may have used in school or at work or to track your finances. In competitive Excel, players square off in test-taking showdowns, earning points each time they answer a question correctly. Players' screens are a whirlwind of columns and keystrokes and formulae; if the terms XLOOKUP, RANDBETWEEN, and dynamic array don't mean anything to you, you are unlikely to understand what's going on. The commentators help, but only to a point. Even so, you can always follow the scoreboard, which tends to change suddenly and drastically. With just over three minutes to play, Ngai nailed a set of questions and jumped out to a 416-390 lead. GolferMike1 began to rethink his earlier assessment: "Uh oh. We got a game."

There's a pretty good explanation of what some of the challenges are like starting at the 6-minute mark in this video:

If you'd like more information, check out the Microsoft Excel World Championship for 2023 — the finals are in Las Vegas this year, they're gonna show it on one of ESPN's channels, and there's more than $15,000 in prize money at stake.