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Across the United States, sports-hungry fans search far and wide for content as the vacuum left by the suspension of the MLB, NHL and NBA seasons continues to grow on a daily basis.
With the lack of real-world answers, fans of all sports are turning their attention to the growing world of eSports. Several eSports leagues, centered around games like Madden 2020 and NBA 2K20, have been going strong long before the world had ever heard of COVID-19.
The city of Dallas has become one of the hubs for all things eSports as the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and owner Mark Cuban are one of the more progressive franchises when it comes to boosting the signal for the popularity of electronic sports.
As teams continue to market toward the millennial sports fan, Mavericks players, such as All-Star Luka Doncic and Justin Jackson, continue to play online during the league’s absence, allowing fans to watch along or even join in their games.
But their skill set off the court is nothing compared to the eSports pros that are living and breathing video games in Dallas.
Two Dallas-based companies, Envy Gaming, and Complexity Gaming, are established among the industry as titans that attract the best players from around the world to promote their brand in a market expected to reach $1.7 billion next year.
Envy Gaming’s headquarters are located next to the American Airlines Center, where the Mavericks play their games. Even though all of Envy’s public events are postponed, the group’s players can still battle with other teams online.
“What’s great about esports is that a lot of the competition actually started online, and many official matches were held there,” Envy Gaming owner and CEO Mike Rufail said. “That was all until the funding put us all in a spot to invest in the live events more. So this isn’t something we are too worried about because we have a good connection and a decent amount of infrastructure to play competitive matches on the internet.”
North Texas eSports teams have won championships in Overwatch, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, NBA 2K, and Apex Legends.
The growing popularity of these events has caught the attention of professional leagues from around America and NASCAR took advantage of social distancing to host an iRacing event that hundreds of thousands of race fans enjoyed on Sunday.
Last Sunday, NASCAR became the first major sport to offer fans a glimpse of what eSports can do in the time of social distancing. 35 professional drivers climbed into virtual racing machines housed in their garages and workout rooms across the country to race in a nationally televised event.
The Dixie Vodka 150 became a godsend for racing fans that have become frustrated with the lack of motorsports during the coronavirus pandemic.
The virtual race allowed NASCAR legends Bobby Labonte and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to come out of retirement to join other stars of the sport including champion drivers such as Jimmie Johnson.
The race, shown on FS1 and dozens of streaming feeds around the internet, provided an eSports event to fans that could provide a connection for broadcasters to recoup money from their expensive television rights packages that are losing money without real-life events.
The term eSports comes from a combination of the words electronic and sports. Popular video games like Madden 2020 and NBA 2K20 are the focus of eSports leagues around the nation.
Kyle Busch won the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in a four-race playoff.
While specific game numbers are cloudy, the industry sold $43.4 billion worth of video games with 164 million adults playing each year.
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