Bored with the Olympics? Here's how to tune into the 2021 US Air Guitar Championships

Patrick 'Ehrwolf' Culek performs during the Air Guitar World Championships final in Oulu, Finland, on August 24, 2018
(Image credit: EEVA RIIHELA/AFP via Getty Images)

It's that time of year again! For what, you ask? For the US Air Guitar Championships, of course! 

Though the annual event goes back a ways (until 2003, to be precise), the 2021 edition – which takes place tomorrow, August 6 – marks the first time that the event will be broadcast on television.

If you're in the United States, and have ESPN2, be sure to tune in at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT to get a glimpse of all the air-shredding action. You can get a sneak peek of what to expect in the video below, which features the three top scorers from the 2011 Air Guitar World Championships.

All of the contenders in tomorrow's national championship advanced by placing in the top two in four regional contests. For the regional competitions, contestants submitted videos that were judged, and subsequently streamed across Twitch.

The championship involves two rounds: a 'freestyle' round where competitors do their best guitar mime act to a song of their choosing, and a 'compulsory' round where the top freestylers are thrown a surprise track to improvise along to.

All performances are judged on stage presence, technical merit and "airness." The first is fairly self-explanatory, while technical merit is described by the competition's website as "the more your invisible fretwork corresponds to the music that’s playing, the better."

Finally, there's "airness," which is – quite poetically – said to be "the extent to which a performance transcends the imitation of a real guitar and becomes an art form in and of itself."

You can check out some of the finalists, and previous winners, in action at the competition's TikTok page.


Hey TikTok! We want to see your best air guitar moves! ##AirGuitarChallenge ##USAG ##fypシ ##SummerMashup ##RockOn ##AirGuitarIsReal @airhypes

♬ AirGuitarChallenge - US Air Guitar

The winner of tomorrow's final will receive a free trip to Finland, where they will represent the American team at the Air Guitar World Championships.

Forget the Olympics, this is where the real international race for glory and immortality is at!

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.