In a world-first, the Australian Open is embracing blockchain technology by teaming up with metaverse platform, Decentraland, to offer fans the opportunity to attend the tournament virtually. 

The Australian Open isn’t the first sporting event or brand to embrace blockchain technology, but this will be the first time a Grand Slam tennis tournament has incorporated virtual reality and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The 117-year old tournament will be releasing a collection of 6,776 NFTs that will be linked to the action happening on-court and will host a virtual event on Decentraland, beginning January 17.

This means fans who weren’t able to get tickets to the Australian Open are now able to access and engage with the tournament and purchase unique digital collectibles in the process.

What is Decentraland?

Decentraland is a blockchain-based virtual reality platform that allows users to explore a 3D universe through a VR headset. It touts itself as “the first-ever virtual world owned by its users”. It’s a place where users can create, experience, own, and monetise content and applications. 

In Decentraland, you can visit different districts, each with its own theme. There’s a district for gaming, one for shopping, and even one for adult entertainment. You can explore these areas within Decentraland through the use of your avatar. 

What are NFTs?

If you’re still wrapping your head around digital currencies, the concept of NFTs may sound like another language altogether. To put it simply though, NFTs are unique digital collectibles that are an application of blockchain technology. They are considered valuable because they represent something unique like music, images, videos, and in-game collectibles. These NFTs are stored in digital wallets meaning their digital scarcity is verifiable. 

The virtual Australian Open

The Australian Open is taking advantage of Decentraland’s interactive platform to host a virtual event that will run throughout the tournament. Entrants will be able to compete in a number of tennis-themed challenges for the chance to win a range of prizes. 

As mentioned, the competition kicks off on January 17. There will be three rounds of challenges, with the final match taking place on January 30. To enter you’ll need to download Decentraland’s SDK and purchase MANA tokens (the digital currency for Decentraland) which can then be used to buy virtual real estate in the metaverse. The more land you own, the more challenges you can participate in.

You can buy Decentraland token (MANA) with low fees on the Swyftx crypto exchange. 

Rod Laver Arena in Decentraland

Art Ball NFTs

The Australian Open will release a collection of NFTs called “Art Ball NFTs” which will be distributed and hosted on Decentraland. Each collectible will correspond to a winning shot from all men’s and women’s matches from the 2022 tournament. There are five different types of Art Ball NFTs that can be won during matches at The Australian Open and gained through Decentraland’s online competitions. 

There will be a total of 6,776 Art Balls produced, each linked to a plot of land on the court. When a ball lands in this plot (in the real-life game), the NFT holder can earn rewards in the form of AO merchandise.

The NFTs themselves will be represented by three-dimensional models of tennis balls. These will be viewable in Decentraland’s virtual reality headset and can even be bounced around the court. 

Colourful tennis balls with Australian open logo printed on them
Art Ball NFTs

Blockchain tech & the future

The Australian Open is the first Grand Slam to ever incorporate NFTs and virtual reality into its experience, and it promises to be a revolutionary step for both the tournament and the blockchain industry. As the popularity and accessibility of blockchain technology continues to grow, we’re sure to see more sporting events hosted in the metaverse and adopting NFTs. 

Written by Ted

Written by Ted

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