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Esports events: Are they filling the sports void?

The world of sport may have ground to a halt, but sports stars and fans have been keeping themselves entertained with a host of online events.

Athletes from all sports have been linking up online to compete in the virtual world, but are they filling the void left by the absence of real-life action?

We’ve seen footballers challenge their teammates on Fifa 20, F1 drivers line up on a virtual grid and even darts tournaments from the homes of the players.

Of course there’s been some issues, two-time darts world champion Gary Anderson couldn’t enter the PDC Home Tour because of slow Wi-Fi and McLaren driver Lando Norris has been forced to sit out of online races as he struggles to run F1 2019 without the game crashing.

Anderson is a two-time PDC World Champion but he was unable to compete online

We have seen plenty of healthy competition when everything goes smoothly, with plenty of fans getting involved with the ePremier League Invitational tournament, won recently by Wolves’ Diogo Jota.

Norwich youngster Todd Cantwell took the crown in a similar tournament organised by the England football team, beating Jadon Sancho in the final of the Football’s Staying Home Cup.

Embed from Getty Images

Cantwell celebrates scoring for Norwich in January, something he’s had to do online recently

Seven F1 drivers and numerous sporting heroes, including the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Ian Poulter and Ben Stokes have jumped on the F1 game to compete in virtual races, with Ferrari man Charles Leclerc winning the last two events.

These events do give us an opportunity to see more of a personality of the athletes involved. Whilst they all want to win, the competitors are more relaxed and share their true feelings during and after competing, compared to the classic media trained responses we see in normal sport.

The Chinese Grand Prix was cancelled, but it didn’t stop some of F1’s biggest names racing!

It’s also nice to see athletes from different teams come together as friends. There was some good banter between Trent Alexander-Arnold and Raheem Sterling as the Liverpool man overcame a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 on Fifa 20. Imagine seeing that if Liverpool had just beaten Manchester City in real life, it just wouldn’t happen.

Of course it’s not the same, whilst online games may be entertaining, for the serious sports fan it doesn’t really compare.

The games provide some light relief from the difficulties we all face right now, and maybe when sport returns, we’ll all enjoy it that bit more.

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