Four eSports events to watch this week

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

While major sports have come to a complete stop due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sports fans can still find a taste of action thanks to eSports. At a time when athletes aren’t able to take the field, they are now picking up a controller and putting their video game skills to the test at a time when fans are craving entertainment.

NASCAR was the first to embrace virtual sporting events and the decision paid off immediately. The inaugural iRacing broadcast was beloved by sports fans and the second event this past Sunday set a record for an eSports broadcast.

Other sports are quickly catching on and ready to embrace the craving fans have for some type of entertainment. It’s the perfect opportunity for eSports to thrive in a moment when everyone is stuck at home. We highlighted how major sports can embrace eSports and we’ll see their plans in action the rest of this week and likely into the future.

Whether you’re looking to wager a little money or just want a distraction, here are the four eSports events to watch this week.

NBA 2K players tournament

It’s been nearly a month since the NBA suspended the season and we still don’t know when players will return to the court. Fortunately, the NBA and ESPN are teaming up to provide fans with a taste of the sport we’ve all been missing. The 16-player bracket starts on Friday and will feature an incredible cast of NBA stars competing.

Among the stars taking part, Kevin Durant will hit the virtual court and could potentially show us all a glimpse of what’s to come when he is healthy. He and Phoenix Suns center DeAndre Ayton are the early favorites to win, but Trae Young and Donovan Mitchell are sleepers in the bracket. Best of all, the winner of the tournament receives a $100,000 prize that will go to a charity of their choice that aids COVID-19 relief efforts.

iRacings Food City 500

Shortly after it postponed all races due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NASCAR jumped on eSports and took its top events to the virtual world. Coming off two huge broadcasts with great fan support, some of the sport’s best drivers will get back in their virtual cars and race in the Food City 500.

Even before the race starts, fans can count on some hilarious moments. This past week driver Matt DiBenedetto tweeted out a picture of him experiencing his dream, racing in his underwear. For NASCAR fans looking to make things interest, SportsBetting.ag offers some hilarious prop bets and plenty of chances to bet on the race itself. Crashes, great commentary, thrilling finishes and lots of actual. The experience might feel different, but iRacing offers NASCAR fans everything they love about the sport.

Madden NFL players tournament

Madden got the jump on NBA 2K by starting its tournament on Wednesday. It proved to be quite the spectacle, featuring a blowout matchup, a game that came down to the wire and a forfeit. Now it all comes down to Thursday night with a matchup between star receivers and cornerbacks.

While the games won’t be broadcast on television, football fans can find the semifinal matchups on Twitch. Los Angeles Chargers star safety Derwin James will have a target on his back, given he’s the betting favorite. He roasted Michael Vick in the eSports Madden Invitational and seems to be just as good with the controller as he is on the field.

MLB The Show

While MLB’s players tournament might be over, more are likely coming. In the meantime, MLB The Show’s Twitter account shares live broadcasts of season simulations and games for multiple teams. If baseball fans want to see one of the game’s best, young stars pick up a controller and compete, Blake Snell’s Twitch channel. San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence also broadcasts some of his eSports skills on his Twitch channel.