ST. LOUIS -- The Chel Gaming Challenge will bring NHL players and other professional athletes together with some of the best gamers in the world for a showcase at the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend.
NHL All-Star Game participants Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres and Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames, along with United States women's hockey star Hilary Knight, headline the participants for the NHL All-Star egames event, which will take place Saturday from 1-4 p.m. ET at Ballpark Village.
"I'm really excited about [the Chel Gaming Challenge], Jones said at NHL All-Star Media Day on Thursday. "Games were a big part of my childhood. Even in the summer, to this day, when I'm with [my brother] Caleb [Jones, of the Edmonton Oilers], we still play. We'll do a best-of-7 series in NHL or NBA."
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The hockey stars will compete against Gaming Hall of Famer Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel and the NHL Gaming World Championship's Andrew "Nasher" Telfer. Other notable participants in the NHL 20 event will be WWE superstar Xavier Woods and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Irvin, so there will be plenty of crossover among professionals who share a love for hockey.
"Getting a chance to go to the All-Star Game in St. Louis, it's gonna be pretty epic," Wendel told NHL.com. "To get a chance to meet these guys and see what their gaming prowess is and how good they are should be very eventful and maybe a little smack talking. It's just cool to meet the people in real life and find out who they really are."
Jones is experienced at the NHL video game series. Eichel said he doesn't play games that much but is up for the challenge.
"I'll probably be in trouble against an NHL gaming Hall of Famer," Eichel joked at media day regarding Wendel and Telfer. "He's probably gonna bury me. I'm not going to expect too much out of myself."
As much as Eichel wants to play as the Sabres, his real-life team, in Chel, he said he might need to tap into some of the NHL's all-time greats just to stand a chance.
"If I'm playing gaming Hall of Famers, you gotta give me, like, do they still do the NHL century teams and stuff?" Eichel asked, referring to the 100 Greatest NHL Players announced in 2017. "You have to give me one of them or like an all-star team. Trying to even it out a little bit."
Jones is glad to see the rise of professional gaming in recent years and also to see the NHL prioritize it at major events. He said he's been passionate about gaming for as long as he can remember.
"I have an older and a younger brother, and, when we were kids, we always used to play video games," Jones said. "As soon as you're done with your homework -- that's what mom used to say. But we were always up there, whether it's NHL, NBA, Rock Band and Guitar Hero."
Video: NHL All-Star Media Day in St. Louis
Wendel resides in Las Vegas but grew up in Kansas City playing street hockey and NHL 94 and rooting for the St. Louis Blues. Living within walking distance from T-Mobile Arena has made him a die-hard Vegas Golden Knights fan, but he still has a soft spot for the Blues.
"I'm just really excited to be there and kind of embrace all the history of the Blues and soak it all in," Wendel said. "I actually used to throw gaming events there in St. Louis right near the old NFL Rams stadium. I have connections still to St. Louis, and I'm coming back there, and I was obviously cheering for the Blues after the Knights got knocked out [last season].
"For [the Blues] to win, it was really exciting to finally get the Stanley Cup. Obviously being a fan from K.C. and not having the ability as a kid to go to the Blues arena, it's gonna be a really cool moment for me."
Gaming fans around the world can watch the Chel Gaming Challenge on the NHL's Twitch channel: twitch.tv/nhl.