Thursday 24 October 2019

Welcome to World Chase Tag, the competition which turned a childhood game into an extreme sport

Founders Christian and Damien Devaux and two top competitors tell all about a modern take on a playground classic.

(WCT/Damien Devaux)
(WCT/Damien Devaux)

By Edd Dracott

Whether you called it tag, tig or simply it, you probably spent some time in your youth chasing your friends around a playground.

You’ve probably hardly played it since, but what if there was a version that upped the ante somewhat?

Well, founded by brothers Christian and Damien Devaux, World Chase Tag (WCT) does just that – and it’s turned a childhood game into an epic spectacle.

So how does it all work?

Competitions use a format called Team Chase Off. These have 16 chases per match and four athletes in each team.

In each chase the chaser has 20 seconds to tag their opponent, the evader. Evaders gain a point when they last the full 20 seconds and the team with the most evasions at the end of the match wins.

Who competes?

“The essential skills required are speed, agility and the ability to overcome obstacles, and that’s why 90% of our competitors are parkour athletes,” co-founder Damien told the Press Association. “But saying that, one of our best chasers is a kite surfer!

“We go all over the world looking for competitors and have held informal meetups in Japan, Croatia, India and around the UK.”

(WCT/Damien Devaux)

What is it like to compete?

What better way to answer this question than by catching up with one of the teams? Richard Thompson and Andy Skyler Tomin are part of team Urban Generation, or U-Gen, who have never lost a game.

“With World Chase Tag as a sport it really puts you in the moment and it almost makes you feel like a rabbit trapped in the head lights of a car,” said Richard, who is a 19-year-old bike mechanic from London. “Will you run? Or will you freeze?

“This is something I’ve never felt in any other sport I’ve played and it makes things really interesting. But most of all it doesn’t feel like sport, it feels like play. That’s what I love about it.”

(WCT/Damien Devaux)

What makes a good competitor?

“I think there is so much that can make you a good competitor,” said Richard. “Like having good stamina, being fast, quick reflexes, predicting where your opponent is going.

“But I think that if you can run like your life depends on it and nothing else in the world matters, that’s the best thing and the most entertaining to watch.”

(WCT/Damien Devaux)

Richard’s teammate Andy has a reputation in the game for being one of the most entertaining competitors and also is known for taking on some of the most daunting jumps in London’s parkour scene.

So how does it compare with other sports?

“It requires two balls instead of one,” said Andy. “Oh, and a grippy pair of sneakers.”

(WCT/Damien Devaux)

What does the future hold for WCT?

“We want to establish a global league,” said Christian. “Chase Tag has no limit to how big it can grow.

“It’s a very simple sport to understand and it’s one of the few sports that everyone in the world has played regardless of sex or cultural background.”

(WCT/Damien Devaux)

“It’s also one of the few sports that doesn’t require any equipment so training doesn’t favour competitors who come from wealthier socio-economic backgrounds,” added Christian.

“It’s also exciting to watch, even for the millennials with their five-second attention-spans, so why shouldn’t it be a global sport?”

Why indeed.

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