The United Soccer League (USL), which oversees the lower tiers of US club soccer, has launched a month-long Rocket League esports competition in an attempt to keep fans engaged during the pause in the season forced by the coronavirus pandemic.
The inaugural USL eCup: Rocket League Edition, which marks the organising body’s first competitive gaming venture, will feature 32 clubs from across the second-tier USL Championship and third-tier USL League One.
Teams will be drawn into eight groups of four teams, with the competition’s group stage set to run from 31st March until 10th April. The top two teams will advance to the knockout round of the tournament, which will take place between 13th and 25th April.
Every game will be streamed on Amazon-owned platform Twitch, while coverage will also be available on the USL Championship and USL League One websites. Each participating club will also have the option to nominate a charity that viewers can donate to during broadcasts via a link that will be integrated into the Twitch live streams.
“We just wanted to create something fun and entertaining,” said USL senior vice president of digital Lizzie Seedhouse. “More than anything, this tournament will be a great way to give clubs and supporters the ability to come together, compete and have some fun.”
The USL Championship and USL League One are not due to resume play until 10th May at the earliest as a result of the ongoing health crisis.
The USL is the latest sports organisation to turn to esports to plug the gap in its season created by the coronavirus outbreak. In soccer, Spain’s La Liga and fourth-tier English club Leyton Orient have launched competitions on the FIFA title, while various motorsport properties including Nascar, Formula One and IndyCar have launched virtual racing series.