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Escape Rooms as a Sports Discipline

Escape Rooms as a Sports Discipline

Escape rooms, just like any other form of entertainment at some point in their existence, started to develop a sports movement amongst its many fans all over the world. But few entertaining activities are so perfect to become a sports disciplin

Most likely, every escape room fan knows very well that those games have many sports-like qualities, but let’s look more closely at what they are.

First of all, it’s healthy. For your brain, obviously. Puzzles and riddles can help you deeply improve your memory capacity, problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and overall logical thinking. By throwing you in immersive, unexpected environments and unusual situations, they can definitely teach you a lot of new things you probably never knew you wanted to learn. But it’s not just sudoku, right? Every escape room fan knows that feeling when you finish the room, all excited, a little bit tired, but very satisfied. That’s because of a nice shot of dopamine in your brain! Around an hour (mostly) of intense focus, cooperation, many tasks to solve, beautiful scenography, music, and most of all - time with your friends. While trying to escape the room, you have already escaped work or everyday problems at least for a while. All that improves your mood, helps you relieve stress, and feel energized.

Moreover, it is a really great teamwork exercise. If you want to escape on time, this type of game surely needs very strong communication or social skills. If you don’t work as a team everything can turn into chaos. So over time, after many visits, a lot of players try to form and maintain a strong team. Soon, each member finds a role to play, sometimes a very specific one, perfectly suited for their unique skills and personality. That’s also when leaders emerge. The ones who can easily help the whole team to keep on track. You can read an example of the types of roles you can see in such a team HERE.

Most of the rooms you probably wouldn’t compare to the gym, but still, in many rooms, it's at least a half-hour of exercise. Some puzzles require very good coordination. There are rooms that contain many physical puzzles which can help you improve your motor skills.

Finally, let’s add two important factors - progress and a ticking clock. All of the abilities and skills above can be improved by repetition. Most of the time, it doesn’t really matter how smart and talented you are. When you compare to a team that has been to hundreds of escape rooms, you’ll find that experience is really important. Each visit gives you the desire to get better, to solve faster, and escape in a shorter amount of time. And time in escape rooms is essential. In each room, you have a certain amount of time to escape. A lot of escape rooms keep some sort of a scoreboard or track the record of the shortest time a team needed to escape. That opens the door for a really competitive attitude. Many teams try to break the record. Some of them train and try to prepare beforehand. It was just a matter of time before somebody started an official competition.

Probably most known of them, sponsored by a company you may heard about was Red Bull Escape Room World Championships, unfortunately, discontinued at the time of writing this article. The First edition was held in 2017 in Budapest, Hungary. It was the first time the best players from all over the world could compete. More than 9,000 players tried their best in qualifications and 22 national champion teams entered the competition. The event was repeated twice, 18 October – 14 November 2018 in India, and 12 – 13 April 2019 in the United Kingdom.

In turn, Poland was the first country to start organizing its national championships. From 2017 to 2019 the Poland Escape competition was organized annually. Already in the first edition, it attracted over 1,700 participants, and in the third edition, it was 2,800 players. After 5 annual editions (two of which, under a new name - ER Champ) and becoming a worldwide championship, it is an escape room event with the longest history and dedication. What’s worth noting, even the pandemic didn’t stop the organizers and during that time the competition was entirely held online, bringing teams from all over the globe, including the winners from Canada and Japan, and teams from Taiwan or USA on the podiums. This year, in 2022, it will also be an online event, but there are big plans and ambitions for a come-back with full live event potential in the future.

More about ER Champ HERE

On February 24th, 2019, Belgium also held its own „Belgian Champion Escape Room” which had over 70 teams competing for a title of the champions. More on that event can be found on their Facebook page.


Escape room fandom and industry are still pretty young, and after being temporally interrupted by the pandemic It has enormous potential and ambitions. Players are getting ready for big, broadcasted events and we will see more of this type of competitions in the near future.

In order to escape rooms become an Olympic discipline, the road is certainly long and bumpy. But looking at Indoor Skydiving, which has a real chance to appear at the Olympics in Paris in 2024, it is not impossible. Most of all it is amazing how quickly the sports movement has developed in this young entertainment that appeared only 10-11 years ago. The teams have been competing for many years in the same squad, they train by driving through escape rooms across the continent, looking for increasingly difficult challenges. It is worth observing this movement, because there are few disciplines in which players have to demonstrate cleverness, the ability to solve logical and analytical puzzles, and manual skills. Both physical and mental performance counts. This is a completely new category of “athletes”
Bartosz Idzikowski from Lock.me, the organizer of ER Champ.

Tomasz Lipka - Bartosik

Tomasz Lipka - Bartosik

Frontend developer

Art school and philosophy student. Turns projects into websites and apps. Does not like to talk much.

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How did the Poles overtake Red Bull and organize a world championship in escape rooms?

How did the Poles overtake Red Bull and organize a world championship in escape rooms?

Jakub Witosławski |

Even with a huge budget, you can fail by organizing a competition in a field that is specific, niche, and that needs to be well understood. Escape rooms are definitely such a field. An entertainment that globally emerged only a dozen years ago has already seen a sports movement. Red Bull was the first to organize such championships, but it is now the Poles who are behind the most popular games.

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