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Esports Fill The Void As Coronavirus

Esports Fill The Void As Coronavirus

Esports Fill The Void As Coronavirus 960 639 esctoday

Esports Fill The Void As Coronavirus Wreaks Havoc On Sports Calendar

As governments around the world grapple with societal and economic ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic, the sporting world is coming to terms with the postponement or cancellation of virtually every single major competition and event.

While sports might seem trivial amid such fear and uncertainty, the absence of live-action in stadiums and on television is evidence of the seriousness of the situation. And for many people, sports are a distraction, a major form of entertainment, and part of everyday routines.

When live sport returns, it will be a signifier that a sense of normality has been restored to the world. 

No live sports

Until then, fans have looked to fill the void with sports documentaries and archive content, while sports teams have engaged in ‘tic-tac-toe’ and ‘connect four’ contests via social media. On BBC Radio 1 in the U.K., supporters have played ‘rock, paper, scissors’ to decide fixtures between their clubs.

However, it is eSports and video games that made the biggest steps in filling this content vacuum. In England, the Football Association (FA) has simulated the FA Cup quarter-finals in FIFA 20 and broadcast them over social media.

Meanwhile, a 128-team FIFA tournament organized by Leyton Orient’s social media manager hopes to raise funds for English Football League (EFL) clubs affected by the pandemic, as well as other charities. It also gives clubs a chance to field the professional eSports players they have on their books.

Rugby union and rugby league teams have also created eSports content for their social channels, while U.S. sports organizations are also in on the act. But perhaps the most sophisticated operation has been Formula 1.

F1 Virtual Grand Prix

Since the takeover by Liberty Media in 2016, F1 has placed significant emphasis on digital technologies as a way of reaching new audiences. It has launched its own streaming service in the form of F1 TV and has partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide data-driven insights to television viewers.

eSports has been another area of expansion because of the potential to attract youthful demographics and recent versions of the officially licensed video game have emphasized online competition. 

And now with several F1 races postponed because of the ongoing COVID-19 situation, Formula 1 will stage a ‘Virtual Grand Prix’ series powered by the PC version of F1 2019. The series will see real-world drivers, including Max Verstappen and Lando Norris, celebrities and professional gamers compete.

The Bahrain Virtual Grand Prix was won by Formula 2 racer Guanyu Zhou, who started from third on the grid, and the race was streamed on YouTube, Twitch and Facebook. But in a sign of eSports’ growing maturity – and the desperation of traditional broadcasters for live content – the race was also shown live on Sky Sports F1, exposing an entirely new audience to the world of competitive gaming.

While the Virtual Grand Prix series will have no bearing on the current season and is more of a fun distraction that a serious competitive endeavor, it highlights the potential for eSports to come of age at a time when traditional sports are suspended.