It would be very easy to pass a line of cyclists spinning madly on stationary bicycles, sweating profusely with their eyes fixed on screen for regular fitness junkies. However, inside Paris’ National Velodrome, there is so much more to what is going on than just a regular day at the gym. The bikes, in this case, are not regular exercise bikes and the 10 extremely fit cyclists decked out in full racing kits are actually pedaling away on svelte racing bikes mounted on indoor trainers which are tuned to vary the levels of resistance to the rider’s effort, just like it would be in a real bike race. The computer screens display a virtual cycling platform which is where the racing action is.
In the virtual racing world, the bike riders have avatars pedaling through landscapes marred with tunnels, dark forests as well as lava-spewing volcanoes. The idea is to simulate a real-world racing scenario – well, the lava-spewing volcanoes is a rather a bizarre addition to it, but that is what video games are all about. The riders’ avatars go at each other in the same way they would in a real race and the feel of it is just as realistic since a steep climb in the virtual world is actuated through an uptick in the bikes’ resistance. The idea that the pain and effort in the virtual world can be reproduced in the real world is what makes this exciting new Esports venture a gem.
Is it the future?
Already, a number of popular sporting events have been spawned from the idea of merging Esports and traditional sports. Cycligent CVR World Cup is one of the pioneering sporting events that intend to marry the growing popularity of Esports with the grit and determination associated with the physical sporting events. This presents a whole new dimension to both traditional sports and Esports, and it will go a long way in merging both markets or even extending it.
While only about 200 spectators attended the Paris race, over 28,000 viewers watched the race online. Similarly, about 1.1 million viewers streamed 2017’s World’s Toughest Mudder Sufferfest on Facebook even though not very many spectators were present at the arena. Now, the International Olympic Committee has shown interest and intends to introduce an Esports tournament as we approach February’s Winter Olympics that will be held in South Korea.
According to Cycligent CEO, Frank Garcia, “Doesn’t physical Esports make more sense? You see suffering and you see elation. People connect with that.”
Clearly, now that Esports has shifted from being a mere fad to an integral part of the sporting entertainment scene, there is bound to be more interest and investments. Esports like League of Legends and Dota 2 are already attracting tens of thousands of spectators to their arenas as well millions more who enjoy the action via various streaming platforms. Online spectatorship has been on the rise for CVR and Tough Mudder as well, and the decision by the Olympics to venture into Esports will be transformative to the initiatives that depend on true sporting excellence.