It’s safe to say that without a bit of sport going on, the world is a poorer place (unless you’re in Belarus who are still running a full schedule at the time of going to press).
The thrill of seeing the team or professional you follow, or merely the buzz from the likes of Wimbledon, is sadly missing for all of us.
A few clubs and governing bodies, along with TV sports channels, have embarked on a “greatest hits” approach to keep fans engaged and the airwaves busy. This is all very well, but the edge of the unknown is missing from all of it. Quite simply, we all know what comes to transpire.
Enter eSports. For a long time, eSports has been seen as a bit of a poor relation to the real thing. After all, these are virtual reality representations of the athletes and sports we are all familiar with. But what if the COVID crisis makes this type of sport part of the “new normal”?
Gibraltar already has a healthy eSports community, and with greater exposure we could see a groundswell of global adoption of playing sports online. NHL teams in North America have used this pause in the regular season to run matches online, complete with national anthems and all the pomp of the “real” event. Manchester City was one of the first football teams to actually employ an eSports athlete full-time – it helps their brand reach and keeps a different demographic hooked into their team. Leyton Orient stole a march on the bigger clubs, however, when they set up a virtual tournament during “the great pause” by inviting them to compete on Twitter.
There are, of course, some sports that suit the virtual world slightly better than others, and Formula 1 is probably one of them. Self-heralded as the most technologically advanced sport in the world, it’s no wonder that these brands have looked at eSports seriously, and not necessarily confined to their own area of expertise.
At the end of April, Red Bull qualified for the Le Mans eSports Super Final, which is due to take place later in the year. This is the type of event that stakeholders see as complementary to the real world, and give followers of motorsport even greater insight into the technology – virtual or real – that powers their business.
All that’s missing, however, is the champagne – it could damage the game controllers.