On December 6th the New York Islanders are holding an Esports night in collaboration with the Faze Clan. The Faze Clan is a group of individuals who run a lifestyle and media platform that is focused on gaming and video game culture for teenagers and young adults.
Islanders Esports Night will begin at 5 PM with European Gaming World Champion Eki taking on North American NHL Gaming World Champion Regs in an EA Sports NHL 23 matchup. Once this is complete the Islanders will play a regular season game against the St. Louis Blues. There are also some unique events such as a meet and greet with Faze Clan athletes and crossover merchandise that combines both the Islanders and Faze Clan logos and branding.
As someone who grew up playing all the EA Sports NHL games, I could have never imagined that sports gaming and esports could go mainstream enough and reach a wide enough audience whereby it is viable for an NHL organization to hold a virtual hockey game before an actual regular season NHL game. While this is certainly an interesting marketing strategy, it will be interesting to see if this event is successful and if other NHL teams follow suit.
It would certainly seem likely that we will see more crossover events like this in the future as Jordan Zelniker, Esports Lead at the New York Islanders said, “As part of our 50th anniversary season, we will continue to utilize gaming to expand Islanders causal and dedicated fandom, linking our past, present, and future.” Additionally, on November 22nd the NHL announced an expanded calendar and new brand identity for the Esports Championships. Thus, the future looks bright for fans like myself who enjoy both gaming and hockey.
If you would like to hear more on this exciting collaboration, The Hockey News has a podcast out explaining the esports night and discussing the future of Esports and the NHL: https://thehockeynews.com/podcast/nhchel-podcast-episode-10-islanders-esports-night
Or if you would like to check out the Islanders’ esports team you can do so here: https://twitter.com/islesgt