Could we be actually seeing cricket esports?
The England and Wales Cricket Board have announced it is working alongside sponsorship management company, Strive to understand the potential of esports. The appointment will see the ECB and Strive working to ‘evaluate the potential of esports, and how video games engage young people’.
With the likes of the Premier League’s recent ePremier League competition and the NBA2K League expansion, traditional sports are making big pushes in the esports market. Cricket, however, is very much lagging behind, mainly thanks to the lack of genuine competitive gaming titles and an ageing traditional audience. Previously, cricket video games have struggled compared to the likes of FIFA but do have a niche audience — especially the disastrous Ashes ’13 which was pulled from the Steam Store within four days.
Speaking about the appointment, David Mahoney, Chief Operating Officer at ECB, said: “We constantly monitor social trends, and keep abreast of innovation in other sports and industries, to see what can be learned. We’re keen to understand the space better and need a blend of gaming and esports knowledge, combined with strong sports rightsholder experience, to help us achieve this.
“Strive’s strong reputation and experience in what is a new and very complex space, gives us great confidence that we are getting the best impartial advice available.”
Strive are currently working with the likes of GFinity, Game and Multiplay as well as traditional sporting organisations such as World Rugby and Team Sky.
Malph Minns, Managing Director of Strive Sponsorship, said: “Gaming and esports undoubtedly have the potential to offer a variety of opportunities to traditional sports rights-holders, broadcasters, brands and investors. However, these need to be carefully navigated in order to deliver returns. We’re really excited to work with ECB to explore the potential positive impacts of both on cricket.”
Esports Insider says: It will be interesting to see how the ECB can move into esports without actually having a competitive game at the moment. However, with the release of Ashes Cricket 2019 in May, we might see some tournaments especially at the Cricket World Cup and throughout the Ashes series later this summer. As for a genuine cricket esports title, that’s probably some way off.