Islamabad United maiden metaverse splash


Islamabad United with stadium in the metaverse Image: Islamabad United

Cricket is crossing new frontiers every day and it was only a matter of time before it moved over entirely into the digital world.

‘The National’ stated that with virtual reality becoming an extension of the real world, the immersive experience of truly online cricket has arrived.

The Pakistan Super League (PSL) side Islamabad United became the first cricket team to enter the metaverse with a built-to-scale virtual stadium.

The U-Meta Stadium is built on the open metaverse Decentraland. The digital world offers cricket fans a number of interactive experiences.

The Pakistan Super League (PSL) is a professional Twenty20 cricket league contested by six teams representing six Cities of Pakistan. The league was founded in 2015 with five teams by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

The Islamabad United is a Pakistani professional Twenty20 franchise cricket team that competes in the Pakistan Super League. The team is based in Islamabad, the capital City of Pakistan, and was formed in 2015 to compete in the first season of the competition.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is a sports governing body for cricket in Pakistan responsible for controlling and organizing all tours and matches undertaken by the Pakistan national cricket team.

In Science fiction, the ‘metaverse’ is a hypothetical iteration of the Internet as a single, universal and immersive virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets. In colloquial usage, a ‘metaverse’ is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection.

The Decentraland is a 3D virtual world browser-based platform. Users may buy virtual plots of land in the platform as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) via the MANA cryptocurrency, which uses the Ethereum blockchain. It was opened to the public in February 2020, and is overseen by the nonprofit Decentraland Foundation.

‘The National’ further stated that supporters will get to interact with the avatars of their favorite players and explore areas inside the virtual stadium including the locker room, players’ lounge and fans’ conference room.

Not just that, visitors who complete certain challenges stand to earn official Islamabad United digital kits, club memorabilia and digital assets and offers from sponsors. Some rewards earned in the metaverse will be redeemable in the physical world as well.

And just to show how serious Islamabad United is about the new endeavor, the franchise unveiled their playing kit for the new PSL 2023 season in the metaverse.

Ali Naqvi, owner of the franchise, said in a statement, “Islamabad United has always prided itself in introducing innovative and new concepts to cricket fans in Pakistan as well as globally. I’m really excited about providing an unprecedented fan experience in the metaverse through industry leaders like Decentraland and Vegas City. We are looking forward to providing fans with a more immersive experience with the game and its stars.”

The Vegas City is the premier metaverse entertainment district. Based in Decentraland, it is accessible in a web browser so with a normal web link one can instantly join one’s friends in a 3D world.

Other sports entities have already entered the virtual world in a big way. The Australian Open became the first tennis Grand Slam to enter the metaverse, with its AO Art Ball NFTs – linked to live match data – giving fans a chance to own a piece of the tournament.

In football, Spain’s LaLiga has a major presence in the sphere, as does the National Basketball Association (NBA) in basketball.

Islamabad United is the most successful franchise in PSL, having won the tournament twice.

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