eSports. That’s not what they call sports in Yorkshire, or at least not just that. It’s where people compete against each other using computer and console games. It’s a big business, and the very best can garner millions of pounds in endorsements and sponsorship alone whilst millions of people pay to watch streams of elite gamers in action every day. Fans of traditional sports (and few sports are more traditional than cricket) might be snobbish about it, but it’s a real thing which seems like it’s here to stay. At a time when public gatherings and almost all forms of human contact are being discouraged, it seems the ideal moment for the virtual world of eSports to take centre stage.
To that end, The Cricketer magazine launched their own digital version of the T20 Blast. The Quarantine Cup is a competition between 11 county teams on Cricket 19 for the PS4, with actual players from those teams at the controls. It tries to bridge the gap between the real world of cricket fandom and the virtual world of eSports by providing a online tournament which could appeal to the loyalty of county cricket devotees.
There are just 11 out of 18 county teams represented, although they were all asked. Several just couldn’t find a player with a PS4 willing to take part, with many apparently preferring the Xbox platform. There are some big names left out, with Middlesex, Somerset and Yorkshire all having failed to find a player. The participating teams are then split into two groups, where they play everyone else once in five-over games.
The season opener yesterday was a very one-sided affair, with Tymal Mills’ Sussex side crushing Kent’s Imran Qayyum by 47 runs. The presentation was pretty slick, with a few custom graphics provided by The Cricketer’s digital team and live commentary by Adam Collins and Dan Norcross. Given that the games have five-over innings, they only last around half an hour and don’t outlast their welcome. There were phone interviews with the two players afterwards too. All in all, it’s a pretty entertaining way to spend an evening.
The group stages are scheduled to take place for the next three weeks, with games at 7pm on weekdays or at 2pm and 5pm on the weekends. The full timetable, plus all the other details, are on the competition’s webpage at TheCricketer.com. Just to warn you all, there’s a 30 second advert for The Cricketer magazine at the top of the broadcast with a voiceover by Simon Hughes. Don’t worry though, he’s not in it at all after that.
Meanwhile, we asked for people to tell us their best and worst club performances on Twitter and got some crackers in response. If you have any you’d like to share, especially if they’re worth more than 240 characters, we’d love it if you put them in the comments below.