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With the coronavirus pandemic having forced the cancellation of sporting events across the world, esports specialist Gfinity PLC (LON:GFIN) has seen a rapid upsurge in business as sports organisations look to refill their empty schedules with video game-based versions of their tournaments.

In late-March, the company announced that it had been selected to host the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix, a series created to enable fans to watch Formula 1 races virtually after the F1 competition schedule was cancelled due to the pandemic.

READ: Gfinity soars as it secures deal to host F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series

The Virtual Grand Prix is scheduled to run until May, although it will be extended if the pandemic continues and results in more cancellations in the season.

Gfinity’s esports event deals are also not confined to the motorsport sector, having announced in April that it will host the inaugural ePremier League Invitational tournament.

The knockout tournament, which is taking place this week, will see Premier League footballers representing their clubs by playing the FIFA 20 video game, with a live final to be aired on Sky Sports on April 25.

READ: Gfinity jumps as it prepares to host inaugural ePremier League Invitational tournament

Players in the tournament will include Trent Alexander-Arnold from Liverpool, Todd Cantwell from Norwich City, West Ham United’s Ryan Fredericks, Raheem Sterling from Manchester City and Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace.

This isn’t the first time Gfinity has worked in the esports footballing space, having in February been enlisted to operate the ePremier League’s online qualifying and playoffs in the US.

The company has also seen interest from the cricketing world, inking a deal with broadcaster Willow TV to host The eCricket Challenge, a series that will see cricket players compete in the Cricket 19 video game.

READ: Gfinity higher following deal to host ‘The eCricket Challenge’ TV series

The pre-recorded shows, hosted at the Gfinity Esports Arena in London in partnership with Betway, premiered in the US and Canada on April 19, with new episodes broadcast every Sunday.

Players scheduled to compete in The eCricket Challenge include Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad and Liam Plunkett representing England, Kieron Pollard, Jason Holder, and Andre Fletcher joining from West Indies and Glenn Maxwell playing for Australia.

Community building

Aside from signing new deals with the sporting world, Gfinity has also moved to expand its community of gamers abroad, increasing the potential audience for its tournaments.

Earlier this week, the firm inked a contract with YaLLa Esports, one of the leading esports teams in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), to expand its RealGaming101 website into the region.

READ: Gfinity up as it inks deal to expand RealGaming101 website to the Middle East and North Africa

The region is estimated to have around 93mln active gamers, all of which will also be a viable audience for advertising through Gfinity’s websites as it leverages its existing partnerships with advertisers such as Bidstack Group PLC (LON:BIDS) and Venatus.

With only 27% of the gaming market made up of native English speakers, the company said expanding its community franchise was “a strategic priority”, with the MENA market currently “grossly underserved with high quality and entertaining local language content”.

Going forward, Gfinity also has cash and investor backing to fund its growth efforts, having raised £2.25mln in an oversubscribed share placing at the start of April.