This past Tuesday, fans packed New York’s Legends Bar for a grand final. Commentators prepared to call the action and fans gathered around a big projection screen.
The scene was set not for an actual sporting match but rather a FIFA 13 video game showdown. For the past few weeks, YouTube has been the home of the KICKTV Invitational, where sixteen top-flight gamers participated in a virtual soccer tournament, one that featured enough hoopla to match an actual international competition.
The tournament has been covered on the MLS-affiliated Kick TV, one of the four YouTube Original Channels from Bedrocket Media. In addition to providing full highlights for every game in the tournament, Kick has added in a “Goal of the Week” segment and a weekly wrap-up show, just like the kind you’d find on ESPN or Sky Sports. The only difference between the KICKTV Invitational and a regular soccer tournament is that the players are a bit clumsier and celebrate goals like drunken pirates.
The final was released to YouTube yesterday, with contestants R9Rai and Airjapesfifa duking it out for ten grand. I don’t want to spoil the ending, so you’ll have to watch the match live stream to learn who came out on top.
The whole event has an uncanny valley feel to it, but in truth, this is the kind of sports tournament YouTube wants to see. Kick TV claims to have garnered five million views with content related to the tournament. With that kind of traffic, you’d have to think the channel achieved its goooooooooooooooal.