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  • Writer's pictureThe Season Ticket

Sport goes virtual during coronavirus pandemic

We. Race. On. 💪#F1Esports — Formula 1 (@F1) March 22, 2020 The NRL - Australia's national rugby league competition - is also getting involved, with Wests Tigers and Canterbury streaming their scheduled Round 3 NRL clash, contested on Fortnite, live on Facebook last weekend. Football clubs are also seeing the benefit of foraying further into the gaming market. Leyton Orient organised a 128-team FIFA 20 tournament involving other professional clubs around the world in the '#UltimateQuaranTeam Cup'. League of Ireland clubs Derry City, Dundalk, Finn Harps, Shamrock Rovers and Waterford United will join the likes of Manchester City, Roma, PSV and Benfica in the online competition. Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend has confirmed that he will represent the Eagles in the tournament. While online events such as these during the coronavirus crisis will attract fresh eyes to the world of Esports, the ePremier League is already in its second season. The FIFA 20 competition - which is contested by professional video gamers representing each Premier League club - is now in its second season, and has a £40,000 prize pool on offer. Former Everton and Manchester City centre back Joleon Lescott has signed up for the competition, while Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale, Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil and AC Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli all own their own Esports teams. The benefits for clubs and leagues are clear, from sponsorship opportunities (see the tweet below) to building relationships with supporters, and allowing players and athletes to bond through a virtual forum.
🤩 Be in the game! With over 20 million people playing world-wide, FIFA is the world's leading football game.Read all about it, and how your company could be featured as our front of shirt sponsor. #LOFC #OnlyOneOrient — Leyton Orient (@leytonorientfc) March 30, 2020 Lockdowns and other precautionary measures around the world will lead to a spike in gaming numbers over the coming months. For example, participation in amateur Esports in Australia has tripled since the outbreak of COVID-19. Athletes and professional sports stars often game in their spare time anyway, and the absence of busy sporting schedules and training will only increase their presence in the virtual gaming world. Earlier this month, Steam - the world’s largest and most popular PC gaming marketplace - recorded a staggering 20 million concurrent online users. Streaming service Twitch has reportedly also enjoyed a 15% growth. However, it is worth noting that even the world of Esports is suffering financially from the absence of live crowds, with several major stadium events being cancelled in recent weeks and months.
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