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COVID-19: can esports help mitigate the impact on traditional sports?

Virtual Racing
Wednesday, 06 May 2020 By Daniel Kozelko

Following the initial shock of Covid-19, reflected in the widespread cancellation of live events and leagues across the world, many ‘traditional sports’[1] have turned to esports as a way of mitigating the damage caused by the pandemic[2]. Some were quick to pivot in this way: for example, Formula 1 has succeeded in leveraging its already popular F1 Esports Series[3] to create the Virtual Grand Prix[4]. Others were slower: while the Premier League does have an esports offering[5], moves to place more reliance on digital content have only occurred in recent days with their announcement of a virtual tournament in FIFA 2020[6].

The impetus behind this pivot into esports is the need to provide some continued content as lockdowns around the world bite. Unlike traditional sports, there have been far fewer cancellations and postponements of esports events. SVG News has reported[7] that only 8% of live esports events have been cancelled as a result of Covid-19. While 26% have been postponed, a sizeable 53% have simply been converted into online events. As this author has previously discussed on LawInSport, the nature of esports as a digital first product is central to its resilience in the Covid-19 pandemic[8]. It is this resilience which could help mitigate Covid-19’s impact in the sports industry more broadly.   

This article examines whether esports can help mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on traditional sports in three particular spheres, namely:

  1. Sponsorship
  2. Gambling
  3. Sportsperson safety

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Written by

Dan Kozelko

Daniel Kozelko

Daniel practises from 39 Essex Chambers and has a particular interest in eSports issues.

He has significant experience in commercial and civil disputes. This includes assisting in multi-million pound contract and construction claims in the High Court, in arbitral proceedings, and appearing in the High Court on civil and regulatory disputes.

Daniel also has an interest in disciplinary proceedings, having worked on a number of matters for a variety of regulators. Daniel is an avid gamer, with a particular interest in MMORPGs, grand strategy, and FPSs. He looks forward to bringing his gaming knowledge to eSports and video game disputes.

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