ISC Podcast Daily Show 6

Today we will focus on Esports

Sport fans engaged with Sports because of all the positive vibes conveyed by the energy created by a racing start’s “lights out”, a basketball slam dunk or a football last minute screamer. With the arriving of Covid-19 all those feelings have been taken away leaving the spectator with a void.

Can eSports fill that void? Is it now the time for eSports to grab all the consideration from the major sports institution?

Virtual gaming is surely a passionate pastime among the youngest generation, and during this time, is also re-attracting all those people who grew up with a Joypad in the hands. As we discover eSports as a new “reality” full of competition, we see that, in the last years, many clubs from different sports have already placed a bet on this new kind of sector. Football teams joined eGaming in order to increase their followers around Asia where, it is believed, there is the most educated audience in terms of technology among the youngest generations.

Anyway, during this first weeks of quarantine, several leagues, clubs and TV channels broadcasted Online gaming all around the world. An Italian TV Channel organized a FIFA 20 online tournament between legends of football; MotoGP saw a virtual race, with professional commentators, between its major bikers including current world champion Marc Marquez; The American TV broadcaster NBC is displaying previously-scheduled games of the Washington City sides of hockey and basketball, respectively the Washington Capitals on NHL 20 and the Washington Wizards on NBA 2K20; NFL featured in the Fox Esports Maddel NFL Invitational, where 8 American Football stars competed in an elimination tournament. NBA aired a tournament where each team will have its own players representing them.

The highlight sport is now occupied by eSports with no other competition in the sports industry. But, with this huge necessity to keep the fans engaged, it is still unclear how virtual sports should be taken. Most of the digital content proposed is, indeed, pure exhibition. NBA itself has its own separated eSports competition, with professional eGamers, called the NBA 2K League and many are already questioning on how the tournament between real players, previously mentioned, can create help in increasing awareness toward the official virtual championship. Formula 1, also, is delivering a week special show concentrating all the hype on the figure of the current McLaren’s driver Lando Norris. A couple of weeks ago the “Challenge Lando” invitational saw actual fans racing against Norris. 

Virtual Championships are already established in the top European football leagues, but promoting them during Covid-19 period is the key to gain success in the future.  In Germany the Bundesliga launched the Virtual Bundesliga on last 28th and 29h of March where 26 professional clubs were represented on the game FIFA 20 by a team formed of one professional eGamer and one real footballer (Only FC Bayern Munich was missing from this initiative since the club is partner with competitors of Konami). This way, the German football league kept the fans engaged with their idols and promoted, at the same time, the competition between the professional eSporters giving them such a high spot.  

As more eyeballs will continue in getting attracted by the gaming competitions, more sponsors will follow, maybe not now but in the future and post COVID-19. COVID-19 presents a window of opportunity for e-sports.