Australian Open Apes Into Tennis NFTs and Decentraland, Too

The tennis tournament is merging NFTs with on-court action in a creative twist on generative artwork.

AccessTimeIconJan 5, 2022 at 10:32 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 5:49 p.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global hub for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

The Australian Open is taking a swing at the metaverse with a pair of blockchain-related announcements on Thursday, becoming the first Grand Slam tennis tournament to do so.

The famed tourney is releasing a collection of 6,776 non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that correspond to action on the court and will host a virtual event for the competition on the metaverse platform Decentraland.

Every winning shot from the tournament’s 600 matches will correspond to one of the collection’s NFTs. Owners will receive an airdrop with footage of the point, virtual wearables and Australian Open merchandise, according to a press release.

The data pulled to match the NFTs will come from the same electronic line-calling technology used to judge the matches’ in-game points.

“It’s probably gotten way too deep at this point,” the project’s lead Ridley Plummer told CoinDesk while describing how it designed each of the balls’ fuzz to be unique. “But it’s what we signed up for.”

Tennis ball generative art.
Tennis ball generative art. (Australian Open)

If the winning point happens to be in a championship match, the NFT owner will be delivered the physical ball in a custom engraved case. Court location for each NFT will be determined after the collection’s minting, which will take place on Jan. 13 for 0.067 ETH (roughly $350) apiece.

Metaverse too

The event’s Decentraland party will run throughout the tournament, which begins on Jan. 17, and will include challenges for fans to compete for virtual prizes.

Plummer told CoinDesk that the setup will bring “a warm Australian summer vibe through the computer screen,” and won’t be the last virtual event hosted by the tournament.

Big picture

As the pandemic continues to thwart many in-person gatherings, virtual events like the Australian Open’s could become more commonplace. The owner of One Times Square recently threw a New Year’s party in Decentraland, attended by metaverse early adopters from around the world.

“We’ve always been known as one of the most innovative and entertaining events on the calendar,” Plummer told CoinDesk in an interview. “It’s a festival of entertainment as much as a tennis tournament; some people spend eight or nine hours at the Australian Open and don’t even see a tennis ball. Going into the metaverse was the next logical step in that progression.”

The Australian Open teamed up with metaverse design firm Run It Wild for the event’s construction.

The metaverse version of the Australian Open's Rod Laver Arena.
The metaverse version of the Australian Open's Rod Laver Arena. (Australian Open)

Disclosure

Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish, a cryptocurrency exchange, which in turn is owned by Block.one, a firm with interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets including bitcoin and EOS. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.

Eli Tan

Eli was a news reporter for CoinDesk. He holds ETH, SOL and AVAX.


Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.