All Sports Are Esports Now: The MLB The Show, Players Tournament Edition

from the homeruns-at-home dept

For nearly a month now, since this coronavirus nightmare really began in America, we've been discussing how all sports have become esports, nearly overnight. Auto-racing kicked this trend off with some fairly great internet and television broadcasts of real racers driving digital cars. After that, the NFL and NBA made their own runs at some kind of esports events, with fairly mediocre results.

Now Major League Baseball is getting involved, having kicked off a 30 player tournament using the excellent MLB: The Show Playstation series. In announcing the series, MLB indicated it would be a tournament style event with one representative from 30 MLB teams playing their teams, with games being 3 inning affairs.

Starting Friday, 30 players are putting their virtual talents to the test in the first “MLB The Show” online league. Participants include 11 onetime All-Stars, five World Series champions and eight players age 25 or younger. The league will consist of 29 games for each player, one against each of the other participants, and will run for approximately three weeks. The top eight players will then advance to the “postseason.”

The “MLB The Show” players league will provide fans an opportunity to watch their favorite players play the video game, while also allowing them to interact with them through various streaming services.

Unlike the NFL and NBA attempts, there are several things that put this MLB event on solid footing. First, MLB: The Show is simply excellent and has nearly universally great reviews from games journalists and the public alike. Second, nobody does social media and internet marketing of its game in the professional sports world better than MLB. From MLBAM (Major League Baseball Advanced Media) to unleashing players on sites like Twitter and Facebook, MLB does it at least as well as everyone else. On top of that, the sport is almost perfectly suited to have a realistic video game substitute step in when you cannot experience the real thing. The motions, sights, and sounds of baseball translate well to a video game compared with more, ahem, highly athletic sports.

The results? They sure look like a lot of fun, with participation by MLB players, their families, and at least one good puppy named Rookie.

Honestly, when it comes to what MLB and NASCAR are doing in esports right now to fill in the gaps left by a global pandemic, one of the very real questions is quickly becoming why in the world these esports versions of leagues shouldn't continue when the real games come back.

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Filed Under: baseball, covid-19, esports, mlb: the show, sports, video games
Companies: mlb

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  1. icon
    Narcissus (profile), 15 Apr 2020 @ 6:04am


    I also think that NASCAR (or any racing game for that matter) is a very different animal than MLB when it comes to esports.

    Racing games, specifically if played with a halfway decent race wheel + pedal setup require similar skills IRL as online. Mind you, similar. Real life racing requires a lot of physical fitness and games tend to be more sensitive to tweaking car set-ups in specific ways. However, they're similar enough that if you know how to properly do one of the two you'll have a much easier time doing the other.

    MLB or NBA or NFL or soccer, or any other sport that I can think of right now, needs a very different skill set IRL than online. Here, the esports is mostly about mastering the controls. Generally speaking, being good at John Madden has no bearing on your ability to play in the NFL.

    So, I think racing leagues might be able to create an on-brand spin-off with the same sports heroes that you see driving around the real-life tracks, especially with the younger drivers that have been sim-racing since they could walk. In F1, for example, you can see that the young drivers can actually compete quite well with pure gamers. Additionally you could have an interesting angle where you exclude the car from the equation and only focus on driving skills.

    For the other sports I see that as challenging, since many professional athletes will probably not be that good in the actual gaming part. So, in that case the MLB and the esports MLB would probably address different target groups and have very different players. Although I did hear some professional soccer teams are building up their own parallel esports teams, so perhaps that would be an alternative; The same brands but different players.

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