Japan’s pro baseball season restarts; the Everton vs. Liverpool match breaks viewership records; and the NBA’s Chinese streaming partner plans to build a 320-acre “city of the future.” For these stories and more, check out the Red Phoenix Global Sports Update:
Japan’s Pro Baseball, Football Leagues to Admit Fans from July 10
Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan’s most prominent sports league, opened its 2020 season last Friday without fans due to COVID-19. After a three-month delay, the season will be shortened from its regular 143 games to 120. All games in Japan will be played without fans until July 10. There will be periodic testing and quarantines, and, according to league guidelines, players will be banned from spitting, and non-athletes will be required to wear masks at all times.
China’s Tencent Plays Master Builder and Plans’ Net City’
Tencent, the Chinese esports giant and digital media partner of the NBA, is building a 22-million-square-foot car-free city of the future, also called the ‘Net City,’ in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. The neighborhood will feature high technology and driverless cars, and will include corporate offices, a school, apartments, sports facilities, parks, retail space, and “other amenities that suit a work-life balance for Tencent employees.” Tencent plans to build on a 320-acre plot on the Shenzhen waterfront. The ‘Net City’ is designed to accommodate a population of 80,000 people.
Broncos’ Mile High Stadium Will Feature Betfred Sports Betting Lounge
Betfred USA Sports, a Las Vegas subsidiary of Betfred Group that operates more than 1,600 betting shops in the U.K., has signed a multi-year sponsorship deal to become an official sports betting partner of the Denver Broncos. Betfred will be a sponsoring partner of the Broncos’ sports betting lounge, which will open this season. The room will be located directly outside of Mile High Stadium. Fans must be at least 21 years old to enter. Inside, they can view live betting odds and ask for assistance on using Betfred’s app.
Absolute JUPITER Win Inaugural VALORANT Ignition Series Event
Absolute JUPITER emerged victorious in the RAGE Invitational, the largest ever esports tournament in Japan. The team took home the winner-take-all ¥500,000 ($50,000) prize. The VALORANT Ignition Series is a tournament where the game’s publisher, Riot Games, partnered with over 20 esports organizations, including Japanese companies, CyberZ Co., Ltd., Avex Entertainment Co., Ltd., T.V. Asahi Co., Ltd. to help promote eSports in Japan and worldwide.
K-League Soccer Players Will be Featured on Blockchain Fantasy Platform
Blockchain soccer collectibles platform, Sorare, has announced a partnership with Korea’s K-League to obtain full licensing on over 400 players from across 12 clubs. Sorare, a Paris based startup, allows fans to collect, trade, and use limited-edition digital collectibles to compete in soccer leagues and earn prizes. The K-league is the first Asian league and the second national league to join the platform.
Everton vs. Liverpool Breaks Viewership Records
Sky Sports confirmed that over 5 million people watched Everton’s 0-0 draw against Liverpool last Sunday. This makes it the most-watched match in Premier League history. The Manchester derby was shown free-to-air with a 1.9 million viewer average on the Pick channel, and 3.1 million across Sky Sports channels and Sky One. Its previous record was for the 2012 Manchester derby, which attracted 4.4 million fans.
NBA Players Will Wear Smart Rings to Detect COVID-19 Symptoms
The NBA is getting ready to restart its season at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando in late July. The league has begun releasing health and safety protocols, one of which is an electronic ring that can track COVID-19 symptoms up to 3 days before players feel them. The ring is made by the company Oura that would monitor users’ heart rate, breathing, and body temperature.
Basketball Restarts in China After Coronavirus Shutdown
The Chinese Basketball Association has restarted after a nearly five-month pause due to COVID-19. All games are being played without fans in the stands and with fewer foreign players. CBA president, Yao Ming, has warned teams and players that the pandemic is not yet over, and that everyone will still need to practice caution during the season.
LCK Summer Split Kicks off with a Pentakill
Thousands of fans watched the opening games of League of Legends Champions Korea’s (L.C. K) 2020 summer season online last week. It was the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak that a competition was held in an arena. The opening games galvanized online audiences with a pentakill, a rare event when a single player kills all five opposing players. Ten of the best League of Legends teams in Korea will compete for the championship.
Former Sooner Makes History for Japan Professional Baseball Team
Zach Neal, a former Oklahoma Sooner starter, became the first foreign pitcher to start opening day for Japan’s pro baseball team the Seibu Lions in 25 years. The last player who did this was Taiwan’s Kuo Tai-yuan back in 1995. Before this, Neal showed to be one of the best pitchers on a dominant team in the NPB. The Lions have won three consecutive Pacific League pennants, consistently one of the most successful organizations in Japan.