The coronavirus continues to spread across the globe and as it does, a number of top sports and esports tournaments and events have had to be postponed or cancelled completely due to the virus.
Top sporting events such as the Players Championship in golf, top tennis tournaments around the world, plus top football leagues and competitions in Europe have all been postponed, in some cases indefinitely, until the virus can be brought under control. Indeed, the esports industry has also seen a number of casualties, with several Overwatch League game weekends postponed and Rift Rivals now retired from the League of Legends schedule.
However, while major esports events that attract thousands of fans to watch are being cancelled, esports is also offering hope for those in the sports industry for at least some competition during the outbreak.
West Ham v Wolves Esports Match
This weekend, West Ham were reportedly set to take on Wolves in the Premier League before the governing body halted the competition for the time being. However, on Saturday Wolves team of esports professionals took on West Ham’s own team using FIFA 2020 to play out an esports version of the game.
The Hammers were represented by Jamie “Jamboo” Rigden while Wolves had “Ebinho” Bernardes da Costa Filho representing them in the best of three legs. The action was streamed over both the Hammers and Wolves respective online channels.
Played over three legs, the first two legs resulted in 2-1 wins for each player before the third leg went the way of Jamboo who came away with a 3-1 victory in the final leg to clinch a win for West Ham.
Leyton Orient Follow Suit
In a similar vein, Leyton Orient decided to hold their own FIFA tournament, inviting 63 teams to join them in an online match-up. The response to the offer was huge with the initial 63 places being snapped up by a number of professional teams, so much so that the tournament was increased to 128 teams, with the draw for the first round to be made live on Leyton Orient’s channel on Tuesday.
The competition has attracted entries from teams all over the world including Amiens of France, two Australian teams (Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners) as well as Scottish teams Hamilton Academical and Ross County, plus a host of English sides including Man City, Derby, QPR, Brentford, Tranmere Rovers and Birmingham City.
Virtual Australian Grand Prix
While the F1 Grand Prix season opener in Australia was cancelled at the weekend, that didn’t stop two drivers Lando Norris and Stoffel Vandoorne from competing in an Esports Australian Grand Prix against famous sports stars, such as Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, and YouTubers.
Furthermore, cyclists have been hosting their own virtual cycling events online, while in Seville, Real Betis striker Borja Iglesias and Sevilla full-back Sergio Reguilon will take each other on in FIFA 2020 in place of the cancelled derby game between the two sides.
All these examples show how the esports industry can be used in the current predicament to bring some enjoyment and some sporting contest back into society in what is undoubtedly a difficult time.
Furthermore, as the epidemic continues, the likelihood is we could see many more events of this type over the coming weeks and months.