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
    Samuel Abram (profile), 14 Apr 2020 @ 6:05pm

    Personally

    I can't wait until there's an IRL Rocket League league on TV…

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 14 Apr 2020 @ 9:35pm

    Not "all sports"

    World Wrestling Entertainment is apparently "an essential service" in Florida.

    https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/wrestling-company-considered-essential-business-fl orida-n1183726
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/us/wwe-essential-business-florida-coronavirus.html

    I guess not everyone got the message. Particularly Republican governors and MAGAs.

    E

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Arioch (profile), 14 Apr 2020 @ 9:35pm

    Virtual Baseball

    I am not from America so while I commend the American baseball MLB thing for their efforts, at the end of the day Baseball, like American football is not a particularly popular global game
    While it may develop a passing interest, I doubt it will make any inroads into the already well established online gaming community

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 14 Apr 2020 @ 11:50pm

    IRL

    I tend to confuse "In Real Life" which is a thing with
    "Indy Racing League" which is a joke.

    Not sure which one you meant, but I agree with the sentiment -- either way :)

    E

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2020 @ 1:05am

    "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."

    Sponsors & teams will demand the competition not be diluted down any more than it has to be, purely for sponsorship & running costs, eyeballs on signage at the live action events is hard enough to maintain, let alone eyeballs going elsewhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 Apr 2020 @ 5:08am

    In the absolute tiniest iota of fairness to WWE, their annual videogames tend to turn out awful. Any attempt to replace a typical episode of Raw or SmackDown with a videogame counterpart would not end well.

    That said: WWE has literally decades of content in its vault that it could be playing instead of forcing employees and “independent contractors” alike to keep putting on shows.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 15 Apr 2020 @ 5:12am

    Re: Virtual Baseball

    at the end of the day Baseball, like American football is not a particularly popular global game

    Tell that to the Japanese, the Taiwanese and the Dominicans.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2020 @ 5:40am

    Multi-channeled empowering capability

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 Apr 2020 @ 5:48am

    Sorry, but the story about cops and the judges who enable them is one article over.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 15 Apr 2020 @ 5:59am

    Re: Virtual Baseball

    You must also not live in Japan, South Korea, or any part of Central or South America....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 15 Apr 2020 @ 6:04am

    Re: Re: Virtual Baseball

    Not to mention there's this anecdote of when I watched the Taiwanese little league team go against the Canadian little league team on ESPN3: The Taiwanese team crushed the Canadian team 12-3 AFAIR.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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

    Re:

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Felicia Whi (profile), 17 Apr 2020 @ 3:18am

    Review

    Sponsors & teams will demand the competition not be diluted down any more than it has to be, purely for sponsorship & running costs, eyeballs on signage at the live action events is hard enough to maintain, let alone eyeballs going elsewhere. https://www.mygroundbiz.mobi/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Arioch (profile), 18 Apr 2021 @ 8:31pm

    Re: Re: Virtual Baseball

    And your point is ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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