With the 2019-2020 campaign on indefinite hold, the Carolina Hurricanes find a way to bring hockey to their fans.
The Carolina Hurricanes, and many other teams across the National Hockey League and development leagues (such as the ECHL), have found a way to continue engaging their fanbases amid the novel coronavirus epidemic in the form of live streaming NHL20 games.
This is nothing new, as gamers have been doing it for quite some time. However, it is the first time in memory that sports franchises have taken to it.
It also opens the opportunity for eSports to open up to, quite literally, sports. Traditionally eSports cover games such as Blizzard’s Overwatch, Riot Games’ League of Legends, and Valve Corporation’s Counter-Strike. Since the league’s shutdown, the Carolina Hurricanes have streamed multiple games of EA Sports’ NHL20, garnering tens of thousands of views.
With the ability to stream to multiple digital venues, such as Twitter, Twitch.tv, and YouTube, there’s no shortage of coverage. It also opens up traditional eSports to increased coverage and other alternative popular sports games to get into the market.
The reach of NHL20.
It’s not just teams that are streaming games, either. Steve “Dangle” Glynn has done multiple, and The Hockey Guy has as well. Heck, even I’ve streamed several NHL20 games on YouTube in recent weeks to help fill the void of fellow hockey fans. The sudden surge of NHL20 streams, and the sheer views they garner, opens up a whole new avenue of hockey entertainment.
With the popularity of NHL20 streams, it isn’t beyond the realm of reason to look into the possibility of the National Hockey League (or other hockey leagues) founding their own eSports teams.
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The off-season is typically quiet other than the NHL Draft and watching for the big free agency signings, and an eSports league that runs from the end of the Stanley Cup Playoffs through to the first day of pre-season.
There’s a lot of intricacies that would have to be worked out, such as how the eSports NHL would select its representatives, scheduling, etc., but it could provide a wealth of new exposure to the sport via eSports.
I can imagine that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is already looking into the prospect, especially as the NHL Public Relations social media team has kept close tabs on the virtual environment.
While it is proving vastly popular, it in no way, shape, or form will ever replace in-person hockey. It does, however, open an entirely new avenue for the growth of hockey as a whole. Especially as the NHL series games have teams from nearly all levels of professional hockey, will it take off as a new branch of eSports? Maybe. Only time will tell.
The Carolina Hurricanes, however, have certainly left their mark on its possible beginnings. For that, we thank the imaginative crew behind the genius idea. Keep up the excellent work and stay safe!
A question to CC Readers: If this eSports league were to become a reality, would you support it? Why or why not?