The lead-up to the 2022 Australian Open has completely overwhelmed by the Novak Djokovic controversy. As his legal team continues to battle it out in the Federal Court, attempting to have his Visa re-instated and allow him to stay and play in the Australian Open, the world moves on and there’s actually something far more exciting to discuss.
The Australian Open is pioneering a move into the Metaverse this year. AO will mint the first AO Art Ball NFTs linked to live match data, giving people around the world a unique opportunity to own a piece of the AO.
While the term Metaverse is likely to confuse many, there are a couple of practical applications of these digital worlds today and the one selected by AO is called Decentraland. This 3D virtual world is not just a place to explore what a single developer or development team has developed but instead focuses on a marketplace of digital goods that can be used in the environment.
These digital assets are delivered essentially with a license (the NFT part) and are created (or minted) for the first time by digital artists, then traded among other players using cryptocurrency. These can range from parcels of land, top clothing for your digital character, or in the case of the Australian Open, they, naturally, have assets relating to Tennis.
“The Australian Open prides itself on being one of the most innovative sports and entertainment events in the world, and we are delighted that through our expansion into the Metaverse and Decentraland, more fans can engage with our sport than ever before,”
“We work closely with some of the world’s best developers to ensure we stay ahead of consumer trends and continue to expand into new sectors in ways never before seen in tennis.”Chief Commercial Officer Cedric Cornelis
Electronic line calling technology enabled NFTs, allowing fans to own the moment in real-time
As part of the Metaverse project 6,776 AO Art Ball NFTs will be minted for the almost one billion global viewers the AO attracts, making this a monumental opportunity to forever own a piece of the AO 2022.
Each AO Art Ball’s metadata will be linked to a 19cm x 19cm plot of each tennis court surface. If the winning shot from any of the 400+ AO matches lands on that plot, the NFT metadata will be updated in real-time to highlight the match information. Additionally, the NFT’s with have utility such as limited-edition wearables, AO merchandise, and other benefits in the future.
Combining real-time court data with NFTs has never been attempted before and will provide incredible ways for global tennis fans to engage as NFT holders in the AO. When one of the 11 championship points lands on a plot, the NFT owner of that plot can claim and receive the tennis ball used in the championship point, in a specially handcrafted case.
This first-of-its-kind NFT is made possible by official match and ball-tracking data from AO matches.
“The court plot tied to the NFT will be revealed when the balls are minted, meaning a buyer can’t choose a specific position on-court. Down the line shots and the ace down the T are where you’ll want to be,”Run It Wild Director Adam De Cata.
The AO Art Ball collection is made of generative art right down to the fuzz
This breakthrough collection is made up of generative art, the algorithmic combination of different colour schemes, patterns and textures, ensuring each AO Art Ball is individual in appearance, right down to the fuzz on the ball.
Within the collection is also 22 AO Legend designs handcrafted from historical AO artwork, including the “Serving Man” silhouette, first introduced in the 1997 Australian Open, has been revived and reinterpreted on an Art Ball canvas.
The AO Art Balls also include over 160 NFTs from the AO Artist Series including designs from local and international artists, specifically created for AO 2022.
AO Decentraland provides unprecedented access
In a major metaverse move, the AO will launch the first truly decentralised tennis experience in Decentraland, a 3D virtual reality platform, allowing any tennis fan access to explore the AO, wherever they are in the world.
Fans can now unite around their love of tennis virtually, and explore the AO precinct online in AO Decentraland for the duration of the tournament. They’ll be able to discover the precinct, complete challenges, view historic AO content, interact with players and other tennis fans, all from their laptops.
“We want the AO to be the world’s most accessible and inclusive sports and entertainment event, and with the unique challenges fans have faced getting to Melbourne we’ve fast-tracked our launch into the Metaverse.”Tennis Australia NFT and Metaverse Project Manager Ridley Plummer
“Taking the AO into the Metaverse is an important step to provide truly global access to our great event – we couldn’t have done that without the amazing collaborators we’ve had on the project, in particular the team from Vegas City, who have worked tirelessly on the build.”
AO metaverse and NFTs, just the beginning of AO’s Web3 strategy
The AO teamed up with blockchain studio and metaverse specialists, Run it Wild, along with Web3 advisory and strategists Rarer Things to create AO Art Ball NFT and AO Decentraland blurring art, sport and technology.
As the race into the metaverse heats up amongst major tournaments and codes, the AO creates a high standard for its foray into Web3.
Linking NFTs to match data increasing engagement for NFT owners, meanwhile virtualising the entire AO precinct expanding access to global tennis fans through its world-first partnership Decentraland — are truly bold innovations befitting of the AO’s history of tech-firsts.
The AO Art Balls public sale and minting began at 10:00 AEDT on 13 January and has since sold out. You can now trade these on the secondary market – OpenSea.
The AO Decentraland event will go live at 10:00 AEDT on 17 January / 18:00 ET 16 January and can be accessed at events.decentraland.org for the duration of the tournament.