A lot of people left tag behind in their school days, but despite its popularity in playgrounds, the game isn’t just for kids. In fact, professional tag is a thing, and it looks just as fun and intense as ever.
As a child, being the best at tag – or tig – was like badge of honour. Every day at school you could look forward to playtime, knowing you’d be in with a strong chance of out-running whoever was attempting to make you ‘it’, and reigning champion once again as the bell rang to you not being ‘it’.
Of course, being ‘it’ was a tough job. Even when the game came to an end, people would keep their distance in case you decided to play dirty and hit them with a sneaky tag. The most you could do is wait for the next game to commence, and hope you could catch someone.
There’s no denying the game is a brilliant one. It’s energetic, intense and exciting, and it never fails to leave your heart racing, especially if you successfully evade the chaser.
But unfortunately, kids often lose interest as they become older, opting instead for activities like football, or less sweat-inducing pastimes, like scrolling through social media.
However, despite its reputation as a playground game, tag is very much a real sport, and if you’re good enough, you could make it to the big leagues.
In 2011, brothers Christian and Damien Devaux set up World Chase Tag (WCT), the first and only global league for professional competitive tag, and ever since fast and agile athletes have been sprinting around specifically designed courses, hoping to evade the chaser.
Check out some footage of athletes in action:
The rules of the game are simple, though they’re slightly more in-depth than just ‘run away for as long as possible’. The most popular format of the game played at WCT competitions is ‘Chase-Off’, and consists of two teams, each made up of a maximum of five athletes.
Each match has a pre-determined number of chases, usually 10-16, and each chase is twenty seconds long. One athlete from each team will step forward to play; one as the Chaser and one as the Evader.
The winning athlete in each chase stays on as the Evader, and the losing athlete comes off and is replaced by a teammate, who then becomes the Chaser.
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Thanks again to everyone that took part in WCT2! We're having a bit of a problem with some of the footage so we're just working on that now but should be able to get some highlights out in the next few days. We're going to be putting the 'Chase of the Day' down to a public vote. The two people involved in the winning Chase will each receive £250, so stay tuned… @nabilhadim_ninjawarrior @themonsterkai 🎥@danidevaux #worldchasetag #chasetag #WCT2 #keepchasing #dontgetcaught #harddrivescansuckmydick
A team is awarded one point when their athlete successfully evades their opponent for the entire duration of the chase, and the team with the most points at the end wins the match.
It seems simple enough, but World Chase Tag has some added challenges to make the game even more interesting. Rather than playing the game in an open, clear space, chases take place on a course filled with obstacles.
In order to evade their chaser, athletes must be able to duck, dodge and jump over everything in their path as fast as possible. The game shares a likeness to parkour, and the ability to move over the barriers, rails and platforms quickly and efficiently can give players a great advantage.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You want to give it a go, don’t you? I know I certainly do. I’m not particularly fast or agile, and I’d probably crack my head on one of the obstacles, but I’d have a great time doing it.
One man who’s well versed in the world of professional tag is Greg Ball, the 23-year-old co-manager of the reigning World Chase Tag champions, Marrero Gang.
Greg works full time as a media sales executive in London, but he’d be more than happy to make competitive tag his full-time job.
Speaking to UNILAD about how he got into the sport, Greg explained he has a very athletic background. He competed in gymnastics for a year, and sprinted on a national level for South Africa at 10 years old.
Of course, like many children, he also took part in a lot of games of tag as a child.
I’ve always been around tag. It was the main playground game I used to play in South Africa.
I wish I could give you an extravagant story about running away from lions and wild animals but really I’ve always just been a hyperactive kid.
Greg then moved to the UK 11 years ago, when he got involved in parkour after being inspired by the chase scene in Casino Royale. The athletic teen joined a local parkour club, and has spent most weekends since developing his skills.
Along with his longtime friend Kieren Owen, Greg founded the Parkour brand Marrero Gang.
Through his interest in parkour, Greg met Connor O’Carroll, co-founder of the London School of Parkour. Connor later joined Greg in the creation and management of the World Chase Tag team, which is also called Marrero Gang, made up of athletes Greg met through parkour gatherings.
One of the WCT founders approached Connor about the organisation’s first meetup, and Marrero Gang went along. They have since taken part in three official WCT championships, and achieved first place every time.
Greg explained that his favourite thing about the game is the primal fight or flight instinct that comes with being chased, saying:
There aren’t many sports now a days that come close to the feeling of life or death, at least not since the Roman Gladiators. When I’m in a chase, its all about that feeling.
There’s nothing else going through my head in that moment other than ESCAPE. Its the oldest reaction programmed into us from our early human days.
Being able to tap into reaction and control provides an overwhelming feeling of being alive.
Of course, it takes skill to become a three-time champion of World Chase Tag, though it may not be the skill you’d expect. While speed and agility is important, Greg pointed out that the most vital skill is the ability to have fun in the game.
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Yung @kongcon came back for the weekend for some secret @worldchasetag drills and some swingz. #parkour #freerunning #parkourculture #freerun #freerunner #streetwear #parkourlife #parkourtraining #pkfr #freerun #fashionphotos #marrerogang #storror #farangclothing #parkourfreerun #brewman #themotusprojects
He told UNILAD:
Most people would say being quick or good at parkour [is most important], but the main skill I would say has to be within the mind. The ability to relax and have fun in these high pressure situations separates the strong from the weak.
9/10 times I catch someone it’s down to the fact that they panic under pressure. 9/10 times when I get away from someone, its because I’m relaxed and able to treat the game like a game.
When a lion chases a deer, and the deer panics, it gets caught.
The organisation are in the process of setting up UK meet ups to get more people involved, so if you think you’ve got what it takes, get in touch with World Chase Tag here.
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AND STILL…..Three time Champions @marrerogang were victorious again at WCT3!!! Big congrats to them and a huge thank you to all the athletes for their effort, training, preparation and, in some cases, travel. When we started World Chase Tag™ our aim was to see the best athletes chase and last night, I can honestly say, that’s what we got. We wanted to make WCT3 the biggest event we’d done so far. We bit off more than we could chew but managed to swallow it thanks to many, many people that helped us out in the innumerable jobs that needed to be done. The WCT team is getting bigger and hopefully we’ll back again next year, stronger and slicker, for WCT4. We have access to the footage in the next few days so we’ll start releasing the first bits of content next week. We’ve also got the ‘Knight of Flight’ and ‘Best Chase’ prizes up for grabs, so stayed tuned. Thanks again for all your support and until next time….. keep chasing and don’t get caught!!! 📷@danidevaux (my favourite sister) #worldchasetag #wct3 #chasetag #thankyousofkingmuch #tiredAF
Greg is encouraging people to come and challenge the reigning champions, and he offered some sage words of wisdom for anyone considering joining the game.
There’s really nothing quite as fun as competitive tag. If you take sport seriously and would like to compete, get in contact with World Chase Tag.
And if you think you’re good enough to challenge the 3 time reigning champions I’ve only got 1 piece of advice… Don’t Get Caught.
It’ s probably easier said than done, but World Chase Tag is the place to put your skills to the test!
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.