Swedish Ice Hockey Association has turned to competitive video gaming to feel up the vacuum left by the suspension of the Swedish hockey season.
Svenska Spel Backs Esports Hockey in Sweden
Svenska Spel, the Swedish state-owned gaming operator, has announced a new partnership with the Swedish Ice Hockey Association and the Swedish Esports Association (SESF). The entities are going to work together on promoting hockey in the country by sponsoring the Swedish eHockey Championship, a competitive video gaming event.
As home of some of the largest esports festivals, including DreamHack, Sweden is perfectly poised to make forays into the intersection between sports and competitive video gaming. The sports simulator based on real-life hockey is EA Sports’ NHL 20, covering both North America and Europe.
Sweden is in its second year of the Swedish eHockey Championship which is held in collaboration with NHL Gamer, a dedicated esports tournament solutions provider, and the largest host of eHockey events in Europe.
Players and teams can pick from a one-versus-one and six-versus-six games and participate in the event which lasts from August through October. There are five weeks of regular season play, featuring the most gifted Swedish eHockey players in the country.
To field a team in the league, at least 50% of all participants must be Swedish, including the captain of the team. The finals are then hosted on October 2-3 and broadcast on the league’s dedicated channel on Twitch.
Commenting on the partnership and sponsorship opportunity, Svenska Spel’s head of sponsorships, Jimmy Sandberg, had this to add:
“As the main sponsor of both the Swedish Ice Hockey Association and the Swedish Esports Association SESF, we are proud to also take on the role as the main sponsor of the Swedish Championships in eHockey. Working together to marry traditional sports with e-sports is something we believe in.”
Swedish Ice Hockey Association Keen to Tap Into New Demographics
The Swedish Ice Hockey Association has also embraced the opportunity as an attempt to reach out to new audiences. Christer Plars, commercial director at the association argued that establishing closer ties between real hockey and eHockey could lead to the conversion of younger audiences into true hockey fans.
Plars also said he was happy that as a result of the partnership, more people would have the opportunity to play hockey virtually, alluding to the current situation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With hockey in Sweden cancelled for the rest of the 2019-20 Season, virtual hockey has proven a palliative for fans that have missed hockey. Meanwhile, other sports simulators, including EA Sports’ FIFA series have been played competitive around Europe, North America, Asia and even Saudi Arabia. The FIFA eWorld Cup prize pool stands at $3 million for this season and has been progressively growing progressively.
The English Premier League, Danish SuperLig and Spanish LaLiga all have active partnerships for running virtual competitions as alter-egos of the mainstream competitions.