The Australian Open kicks off its Decentraland event
The Australian Open tennis tournament partnered with Dentraland to hold the first ever tennis grand slam in the Metaverse on January 17 in Melbourne.
This event will last the duration of the actual Australian Open tournament (till January 30 2022) in a virtual recreation of Melbourne Park. Key areas include the Rod Laver Arena, Grand Slam Park, and the New Beach Club will be open to visitors on Decentraland.
It was revealed that Tennis Australia rented the space from Vegas City, a company that owns large portions of Decentraland land.
What fans get to experience
Fans can join the fortnight-long event by logging on to Decentraland with virtual reality headsets. There, they would enjoy a variety of experiences with their avatars, including exclusive footage from over 300 cameras around the actual Melbourne Park and extra footage showing player arrivals area and the practice village.
There will also be a live footage and radio broadcast from the AO event featuring archival footage from tennis matches dating back to the 70s.
Finally, fans can join virtual meet-ups with tennis players, with an appearance from Mark Philippoussis confirmed.
Due to the new COVID-19 variant, physical attendance at the Melbourne tournament has dwindled with the current travel restrictions in place.
‘With the unique challenges fans have faced getting to Melbourne, we’ve fast-tracked our launch into the Metaverse,’ said Ridley Plummer, Tennis Australia NFT & Metaverse project manager, in a virtual welcome address on Decentraland.
‘The Metaverse is not going anywhere, and as a company, we’re invested in continuing to grow our online presence and push the boundaries of innovation,’ Plummer added, revealing the possibility of a year-round property in the metaverse.
Australian Open NFTs
Before the AO Decentraland event, the tennis tournament released a collection of 6,776 ‘Art Ball’ NFTs on January 13, which sold out on OpenSea in three minutes.
Each NFT is linked to a specific 19cm by 19cm plot of each tennis court surface. When the winning shot of any of the tournament’s official matches lands on a plot, the metadata of the corresponding NFT is updated to include that information. The holder of such an NFT can then claim and receive the championship point tennis ball from the match in a handcrafted case.
Currently, the Australian Open has a partnership with NFT platform Sweet to release six NFT collections celebrating the last five decades of the tournament. These collections would be dropped at intervals between January 17 and 27.
“It’s definitely a long-term strategy; this year has been a dip the toe in the water moment; we’re all learning about this space as well,” Plummer said, implying there’s likely to be more Metaverse experiences from the tournament.
Photo: Australian Open