These are unprecedented times for the world of sport. With the sporting calendar temporarily decimated, fans are searching for new ways to consume sport, while brands, teams and leagues seek new ways to engage with them. There was no blueprint for this, but one discipline finds itself well set for the situation: Esports.
At a difficult and uncertain time when we’re adjusting to a new way of living, people are naturally looking for something fun to watch and immerse themselves in while every mainstream sport & competition we know and love is temporarily on hold – and I think Esports can provide the fix that fans are looking for.
Ben Cossor, Senior Account Director & Head of Technology
There has been a lot of conversation in the sporting world in recent months and years about the growth of Esports and its ability to move into the mainstream. Well, now it finds itself unexpectedly centre stage. Not only are existing Esports fans able to play and be entertained as usual, but traditional sports are already looking to esports to fill the void.
After the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled due to coronavirus symptoms in the paddock, Formula 1 stars Max Verstappen and Lando Norris leapt into online action. Verstappen finished 11th in “The Race All-Star Esports Battle”, where he took on a host of racing personalities and professional gamers.
Meanwhile, Norris joined “Not The Aus GP”, a virtual race around the Melbourne circuit which was organised by Veloce Esports. Both races were streamed live on Twitch and YouTube and saw huge surges in their typical viewership.
Elsewhere, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers also looked to esports to compensate for their postponed fixture. The clubs pitted their respective esports professionals against each other on EA Sports’ FIFA 20 via West Ham’s Twitch channel, whilst Leyton Orient are currently arranging a FIFA tournament of their own, with a host of idle clubs already signed up to compete.
🤷♂️ Sure, connect four is cool but we’ve got a better idea!
We need 63 other teams to enter a knock-out FIFA 20 tournament.
To enter, all we need is the club to RT this tweet.
We will host a live draw this Tuesday…
— Leyton Orient (@leytonorientfc) March 15, 2020
We are also seeing an increasing amount of mainstream media coverage on Esports as journalists look for stories they can tell in their back pages, and as an agency working daily with sports journalists across the media landscape, we have seen a noticeable increase in the number of them looking for comment and information on this topic.
Of course as all fans will understand right now, there is nothing that can quite fill the void left by the sport you love to follow the most. However, in these strange times, as fans yearn for the thrill of contest, an awful lot of new eyes have turned to the digital world. And no doubt some of those fans who are tuning in to Esports for the first time now will become lifelong fans of the future.
There aren’t many good news stories in sport at the moment, but this may just be one of them. And we’ll take what we can get right now.
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