WASHINGTON — The global outbreak of coronavirus has postponed and canceled many events, and for sports fans, that gap has been felt tremendously. The week that should be full of March Madness, NBA and NHL games are now filled with empty arenas, but those who want to watch the Capitals and Wizards play still can. And no, we aren't talking about game highlights.
Starting tomorrow, March 21, Monumental Sports will show hour-long video game simulations of past and future games for both the Caps and the Wizards, all of which will be broadcasted on NBC Sports Washington with contribution from game commentators.
The gameplay will take place through Take-Two Interactive's NBA 2K20 for Wizards games and EA Sport's NHL 20 for the Caps -- and it's not just past season games. Matchups will also be "played" with both teams' remaining scheduled games that were postponed, including opponents and dates.
While the electronic games are not the same as watching Ovechkin or Beal score in real-time, the new approach is one way both leagues are trying to make the most of canceled seasons. An increase in esports participation has only amplified with many staying at home -- streaming platform Steam just saw their highest number of concurrents this past week at a user record of 20 million.
Leagues are using the new approach as a way to not only comfort loyal fans but also entertain new ones and provide a sense of comfort in unusual times.
Zach Leonsis is the Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Monumental Sports & Entertainment and also a GM for Monumental Sports Network. He said the initiative was an innovative way to give loyal fans a way to feel apart of seasons that were cut short.
“We know that fans are as disappointed as we are not to be able to watch our favorite teams on a nightly basis," Leonsis said. "We hope that this fun and engaging video game simulations will entertain our fans and help provide a greater sense of normalcy during these challenging times."
Wizards first simulated game will be against Milwaukee tomorrow, March 21 at 7 p.m. ET. The Capitals first virtual game will be March 24 at 7 p.m. ET with a matchup against another Stanley Cup winner, St. Louis. Both games will feature commentary from analysts and announcers.
As for how and where you can watch, all of the matchups will be televised on NBC Sports Washington and available through all of the group's 24/7 authenticated streaming platforms. You can also check out the streams on Monumental Sports Network website or on their apps, which are also available on XBOX.