With the suspension of all major sports leagues across the United States, the e-gaming world has taken center stage. Professional athletes are taking to the world of gaming during the waiting period. Professional gamers are at the epicenter of everything. Professional sports teams are figuring out ways to have their e-sports athletes and employees play the regularly scheduled games on streaming platforms to keep fans engaged.
The first team that we heard of doing this was the Phoenix Suns playing out their season on Twitch. They took on the Dallas Mavericks and fans tuned into the stream in droves.
.@Suns' first Twitch stream of the games left on the schedule via playing NBA2K was a tremendous success.
Viewership kept climbing, a rarity on Twitch. At one point, it was over 12,500 viewers, which put them top 10 among all live channels on the platform.
— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) March 14, 2020
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) March 13, 2020
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) March 14, 2020
FC Dallas, of Major League Soccer, also got in on the e-sports side and has been pushing out content centered around it. FC Dallas’ Zdenek Ondrasek responded to the team’s FIFA win against NYCFC via video message.
𝕂𝕠𝕓𝕣𝕒 𝕤𝕥𝕣𝕚𝕜𝕖𝕤 𝕒𝕘𝕒𝕚𝕟. 🐍
— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) March 17, 2020
Professional gamers in each of the pro sports leagues have special contracts that limit what they can and can’t do for their club. Just like their professional athlete counterparts, these gamers are under contract for specific services and adding games can mean more monetary compensation needed. The gamers have specific games they are professional in and other games in which they are not. It is similar to asking a professional basketball player to jump in real quick and help out a professional volleyball team, they might not be bad at it, but it isn’t their profession.
With the Dallas Mavericks, they had a brand ambassador play for them. The Suns had Antonio “UniversalPhenom” Saldivar, a Phoenix native who plays in the NBA2K League for the Memphis Grizzlies‘ affiliate, Grizz Gaming.
Big Shoutout to the the @dallasmavs for allowing me to represent the organization and get the W! Definitely had a super dope time! Also big thanks to @Suns @UniversalPhe2K for a great game and providing an alternative to the fans! https://t.co/uPHrMCz6xN
— Lawrence Norman (@YoBuddy_) March 14, 2020
“This was put together in as little as five hours, and the outcome was beyond expectations,” Saldivar told ESPN. “We wanted to give the fans something to look forward to with everything going on and just try to interact with them as much as possible and try to bring both gaming and real-life sports together.”
While the sports seasons are suspended, look for teams to use the digital realm to keep fans engaged and interested in games. Fans are craving interaction during social distancing and are willing to eat up any sports content. If teams are able to get their professional athletes playing competitive matches and monetize those, then that will be an amazing way to keep fans engaged. Fans being able to interact with their favorite pro athletes via interactive games already on the team’s regular schedule will be a unique and novel experience for fans. Imagine Dallas fans being able to play with Luka Dončić in one of their upcoming games…now that would be epic.
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