The Beautiful Game makes an important ESports pivot with Paris Saint-Germain’s All at Home Cup
Traditional sports have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay-at-home orders have abruptly halted the NBA and NHL seasons. They have also led to serious questions about what’s going to happen with Major League Baseball.
But at the same time, we’re seeing real-life sports making quick pivots to deal with the cards that have been dealt them. Some of those pivots are, um, of the totally surreal variety. This explains why Dana White has revealed that he’s secured a real-world version of Fantasy Island from which to broadcast UFC events. Evidently, when you control who’ll be let on and off da plane, you don’t have to worry about anyone spreading COVID-19.
Most traditional arena-based sports have realized that, with a potential audience of millions and millions sitting at home with nothing to do, ESports represent a viable way to keep fan bases engaged. NASCAR has done seriously huge business by launching an iRacing series, attracting one million viewers per event.
The NBA put together a five-day NBA 2K20 tournament featuring league superstars like Kevin Durant and Derrick Jones. And the NHL has staged video versions of games that had previously been scheduled for March and April.
The Beautiful Game seizes the day
Now one of the most popular sports in the world—the Beautiful Game—has seized the day on a big scale.
France’s Paris Saint-Germain soccer team has launched a monthlong online tournament called the All at Home Cup. It will televise matches most places where there’s an Internet connection, including North America, the Middle East, and North Africa.
France’s beIN Media group, which owns the Paris Saint-Germain club, will broadcast the games on its social channels.
Upon announcing the All at Home Cup, beIN was bombarded by soccer fans looking to take part online. Some 1,400 applications flooded in from 66 different countries. Those who made the cut are competing alongside such PSG stars as Layvin Kurzawa, Julian Draxler, and Juan Bernat. PSG’s ESport FIFA ace DaXe is also in the mix. Games take place every Saturday until April 25.
As one might deduce from its title, All at Home hopes to send the message that we’re all better off quarantining ourselves than playing soccer with friends at the park and then touching every Gatorade bottle at the 7-Eleven. Prizes will include postpandemic soccer-match tickets and Paris hotel packages. Oh, and getting to tell your friends you took to the virtual pitch alongside real-life PSG players.