The coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruption to the sporting calendar in recent months, with many major events having either been postponed or cancelled altogether as a direct consequence.
The lack of live sporting action has created a vacuum, with ‘Virtual Sports’ stepping up to provide fans and punters alike with something to bet on and fill the void.
There have been some great events over the past few months and it’s clear that virtual sports are here to stay. There will be more superb simulated betting action over the weeks, months and years ahead and you can get 24/7 Virtual Sports betting at Freebets.com for all the very latest updates.
Meanwhile, let’s look at some of the great Virtual Sports events that have taken place over the past few months:
1. Horse Racing – The Grand National at Aintree
The Grand National at Aintree was one of the early casualties of the coronavirus pandemic, depriving us of the chance to see whether Tiger Roll could secure a third straight victory in the historic race.
In its place, we had the Virtual Grand National, televised by ITV (with almost 5 million people tuning-in – about half the expected audience for the real race) and with bookmakers donating all race profits to the NHS Charities Together organization. The bookies offered fixed odds markets to a maximum stake of £10 each-way and the event raised a total of £2.6 million for charities.
The race itself looked as though it might provide a major upset, with the 66-1 outsider Aso surging into the lead late in the race, only to fall at the penultimate fence.
The race was eventually won by the Welsh 18/1 shot Potters Corner, who held off a strong challenge from Walk In The Mill (16/1). Any Second Now finished third at 10/1, while Tiger Roll faded after the last fence to finish fourth at 5/1.
Tiger Roll is the current ante-post favourite for the 2024 Grand National at 20/1 with William Hill, with Potters Corner on offer at betting odds of 40/1 with BetVictor, Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill.
2. Boxing – The World Boxing Super Series
There have always been debates among different generations as to how the sporting greats of their respective eras would have fared against each other, but it can never be anything more than a matter of opinion.
Well, perhaps not. The World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) created a Virtual World Heavyweight Ali Trophy title tournament between fighters from the 1960s to the 2010s that sought to see who might come out on top.
There were eight names taking part (albeit with an added twist), with quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final to decide the champion. In the first quarter-final, Muhammad Ali defeated Evander Holyfield with a 5th round knockout. This was followed by Joe Frazier beating Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson finishing Mike “Butterbean” Esch in the 2nd round and George Foreman taking care of David Haye in five rounds.
Ahead of the semi-finals, there was the drama of Frazier withdrawing to be replaced by Sonny Liston, although his stay in the tournament was only short as Ali landed an uppercut to finish him in the 5th round. Tyson won the second semi-final against George Foreman with a right uppercut and left hook to the body combo.
The final itself went the full 12 rounds, with Tyson claiming the title by a unanimous decision from the three judges. The series of simulated fights generated almost 200,000 views on YouTube alone. It’s clearly not a definitive answer as to the greatest heavyweight boxer in history, but it certainly added to the debate.
3. Soccer – Virtual World Cup
European Championship 2024 would have been the sporting highlight of the summer for many of us. Alas, like so many other major sporting events, Covid-19 had other ideas and the tournament has now been shelved until next year (with England the current favourites at best odds of 11/2 with 888Sport).
Even so, we can still get our international football fix on a daily basis with the Virtual World Cup, with the likes of England, Brazil, Germany and France battling it out in state-of-the-art simulated action for around four minutes per game, with group stages and knockout rounds leading to the final – just like the real thing!
A Virtual World Cup live stream is available on every match in the tournament and, just like with the real thing, there is a myriad of bets to select from. As in the real tournament, the odds are weighted in favour of the traditional heavyweight teams, so backing the likes of Spain, Argentina and, dare one say England, to win their groups in an accumulator can potentially be a decent bet.
The great news is that as soon as a match finishes, there is always another one (and indeed another Virtual World Cup) just around the corner.
4. Tennis – Andy Murray Returns!
Andy Murray is back in business at the top of men’s tennis! OK, so that’s not strictly true, but the Scotsman did prevail to win the virtual Madrid Open recently.
Murray (who is 33/1 with Betway to win the rescheduled French Open 2024 which is now due to start on September 20) was among 32 of the world’s leading ATP and WTA players (16 men and 16 women) who swapped their tennis racquets for PlayStation 4 controllers to play in the virtual tournament.
Murray beat David Goffin 7-6 in the final to be crowned champion, although his place in the final was more than a little fortuitous after only beating Diego Schwartzman by default (connection issues) in his semi-final. He had earlier defeated Rafael Nadal and Denis Shapovalov to reach the last four.
In the women’s event, Kiki Bertens defeated Fiona Ferro 6-1 in the final, which was a successful defence of the title (of sorts) for the Dutch player, who won the 2019 Madrid Open in real life.