Mathieu Belanger/Tennis Canada
The inaugural edition of the Tennis Canada VR Tournament presented by the motorola razr concluded on a high note during the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in Montreal and Toronto with the crowning of Dave Catt from Great Britain as our first champion and winner of $7,500 in prize money.
The two finalists, Catt and John Sarmie from Jacksonville, Florida, were flown to both events to face off virtually from separate cities which only added to the allure of this new venture. Not to mention that the championship match was of the highest quality and fans attending the National Bank Open were also able to try the new, innovative Tennis Esports game.
In total, the VR tournament featured over 800 players from 43 countries with more than 9,000 matches played over a one-month period. This resounding success is just the beginning for tennis as an e-sport and the possibilities for virtual reality to take the sport into a whole new realm.
“Having the two finalists flown internationally to compete just demonstrates the potential for the sport of tennis to grow in an innovative direction into the future,” said Alexandra Nancarrow, Chief of Strategy and Partnerships at Tennis Esports. “Our finalists are not necessarily tennis players, yet by competing through VR online, they have started to pick up tennis more and more in virtual and real life. One of the key pillars of Tennis Esports is to grow the sport by making it more accessible and fun to learn, play and engage with tennis. The benefits of VR mean that gaming can now be immersive and require realistic movements and we believe it will only be a natural progression for gamers and even tennis players as technology improves.”
Tennis Esports is currently being featured as an Olympic medal event at the East Asian Youth Games in Mongolia and is also gaining more exposure as part of Paris 2024. The goal is to build a competitive esports grassroots community that will eventually lead to the creation of VR tennis teams within different countries to give the game a true competitive edge on the international scene.
The arrival of virtual reality into the world of e-sports will introduce some of the benefits of physical fitness into gaming given the movements required to play. It will also provide new gaming experiences, a wider, more diverse audience engagement, increased accessibility as well as new business models and monetization opportunities that will help grow the industry. The introduction of virtual reality is not without its challenges though and its future in gaming will depend on several factors.
“The integration of VR technology into e-sports has the potential to significantly impact the e-sports industry and the way people engage with it,” explained Gabriel Brien, Director of Strategic Partnerships at XPR Labs in Montreal. “Going forward, the role of VR in the e-sports space will likely depend on technological advancements, market demand, and the ability to address the challenges associated with VR technology.”
Still, this year’s Tennis Canada VR Tournament is proof of its promise and now the question is to what heights can it soar within the current landscape.