Esports are filling the gap with live sports sidelined

The below article has been shared from The Salt Lake Tribune (written by Alex Vejar)


All across the country and around the world, shots aren’t swishing, home runs aren’t flying, goals aren’t screaming.

But there’s one place — perhaps the only place — where fans can get a taste of what they’ve been missing since COVID-19 suspended or outright canceled the seasons in prep, college and professional sports. That’s the internet.

Esports have gained prevalence in recent years, particularly as the increased preparation and strategy involved has led many to considering these games a sport. And during this historic shutdown of much of society, esports is filling a gaping hole.

“Even in a pandemic and something as dangerous as what’s going on right now and we understand why live sports are not happening, this is a perfect opportunity for esports to grow because esports can play no matter what,” said Shaka Browne, who plays for Jazz Gaming, the Utah Jazz’s official NBA 2K League team. “Whether we’re in person or online, that’s the beauty of our sport.”

Esports leagues and programs haven’t been immune to the effects of the coronavirus. The NBA 2K League postponed the start of its 2020 season, set to begin March 24. The eMLS Cup, scheduled to take place March 21 in Austin was postponed after the cancelation of the South by Southwest festival.

At the collegiate level, the remainder of the University of Utah’s esports season was canceled as many schools in the state are axing spring sports and activities.

But that doesn’t mean those gamers are sitting idle. The NBA 2K League put together a virtual pro-am tournament that took place over the weekend, and Jazz Gaming will complete in a league tournament that starts Tuesday.

The eMLS players, meanwhile, are playing friendly matches and streaming them on Twitch. The L.A. Galaxy and LAFC’s eMLS players also recently competed for charity.

Several eMLS players told The Salt Lake Tribune that eMLS can bridge the gap for soccer fans who are missing live games. Giuseppe Guastella, L.A. Galaxy’s eMLS player for the past three years, said it’s also an opportunity to educate fans on how exactly being an eMLS player works and what challenges they face.

Alex Exraa, eMLS player for the Vancouver Whitecaps, said the players’ respective clubs support the gamers taking matters into their own hands while both live and video games are suspended.

Read the full article here.