If you thought that NFTs’ influence in the sports realm was on its way out, think again. 2022 showed that NFTs were indeed viable among sports fans as several platforms popped up that allowed fans to trade assets relating to their favourite games and everyone from FIFA to the NBA got involved.
Now, 2023 is gearing up to give us more of the same as the Australian Open will be launching NFTs to commemorate this year’s tournament. This was confirmed by Tennis Australia, the official governing body for Australian Tennis, in a January 10, 2023 blog post.
How the Australian Open Will Embrace NFTs
One thing that was noted in the announcement was the fact that this NFT collection makes the Australian Open the first Grand Slam to enter the metaverse. As part of this debut, the Australian Open will be releasing a set of assets called the AO Art Ball NFTs that are linked to live match data from the tournaments.
In total, there will be 6,776 unique pieces of this generative art which will give holders a chance to own a piece of Australian Open history. Not only this but the tournament will be held virtually in Decentraland and this means that fans can digitally tap in and watch games from anywhere in the world.
Given how high-profile the Australian Open is and the limited number of physical seats to view it in the material world, this will be a major treat for fans. Then there is the once-in-a-lifetime chance to hold rare digital memorabilia from the tournament.
“The Australian Open prides itself on being one of the most innovative sports and entertainment events in the world, and we are delighted that through our expansion into the Metaverse and Decentraland, more fans can engage with our sport than ever before. We work closely with some of the world’s best developers to ensure we stay ahead of consumer trends and continue to expand into new sectors in ways never before seen in tennis,” said Chief Commercial Officer Cedric Cornelis said.
Part of this is the way that the NFTs will change to reflect the games themselves. Each of the AO Art Balls will be linked to a 19cm x 19cm plot of each tennis court surface. If any of the winning shots in the games land on any of the plots, its accompanying NFT will be changed to reflect this.
This means that their owners will own a piece of the tournament wins. This is even more so if any of the 11 championship points lands on a plot, as the owner of the accompanying NFT will receive the ball used in a handcrafted case.
This further adds to the excitement of the game in that no one knows which plot will serve as host to a winning or championship slot.
“The court plot tied to the NFT will be revealed when the balls are minted, meaning a buyer can’t choose a specific position on-court. Down the line shots and the ace down the T are where you’ll want to be,” says Adam De Cata, the director of Run It Wild, the blockchain company behind this development.