The emergency situation declared due to the coronavirus outbreak put an abrupt end to the basketball season in Estonia, but thanks to an innovative approach, clubs are continuing the season in a basketball esports league as of April 22.
All clubs competing in the highest division of Estonian basketball – BC Kalev/Cramo, Tartu Ülikool, TalTech, Pärnu Sadam/Transcom, Rakvere Tarvas, Tallinna Kalev/TLÜ and AVIS UTILITAS Rapla – , have agreed to continue the basketball season virtually. In the men’s category, the Estonian basketball champion in 2020 will be determined via the video game NBA 2k20 for the PlayStation 4, technical support provided by Levira.
“At the beginning of April, the Estonian Basketball Association found itself in an unprecedented situation. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 it had become impossible to continue the regular basketball season. Thus the association came up with the idea to create an e-sports league in cooperation with the Estonian basketball clubs,” said Keio Kuhi, Managing Director of the Estonian Basketball Association.
President of FIBA Europe Turgay Demirel: "Congratulations to the team of Estonian Basketball Federation and their partners for this innovative solution to continue basketball season virtually. We hope that their idea will spread to other countries as well and will encourage others to create e-basketball leagues during the lockdown period."
“When the representative of the association came to talk to us, they already had a game and an idea. We at Levira had to come up with the plan on how to solve it technically and how to make it attractive. In cooperation with Kristjan Saar, we established a new format and discussed thoroughly with the association to understand whether everything was going according to their expectations,” said Edgar Pravon, Media Services Sales Manager at Levira.
The E-league consists of a total of 10 broadcast days. Every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday the matches are broadcast on Delfi TV, TV3 Sport Eesti and on Saturdays also on the Inspira channel. Levira uses a studio for the broadcast and employs a team of technicians, a director, presenter and a producer.
“After the initial testing, we agreed with the clubs that one player had to be present in the studio for the duration of the match to ensure the picture quality of the broadcast. In order to minimize any risks, the remaining 9 players participate from home. The biggest challenge was to ensure the picture and sound quality, because on our end we cannot guarantee the internet speeds of players at home. Also, compared to normal live broadcasts we cannot move or change any home camera plans,” said Pravon.
The E-league teams comprise of at least five members, four of whom have to be current or previous players of the club, as well as coaches and some clubs have even drafted real e-athletes. Teams play in a round robin format playing all other teams once, the two top teams will be guaranteed a place in the semifinals and from 3 to 6 teams are playing in the quarterfinals.
Viewers can also enjoy pre-match interviews with participants and on Saturdays up to 30 minutes of interviews with people closely involved with Estonian basketball.
Video: https://vimeo.com/413447453 (source: Levira)