- The Australian Open offers 6,776 “art balls”
- Each NFT represents a section of the tribunal
- 11 owners will receive match balls and certification
The organizers of the Australian Open are offering tennis fans the opportunity to purchase non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that automatically update with metadata collected during the first Grand Slam of the season.
The tournament partnered with Decentraland, Run It Wild and Metakey to create 6,776 “art balls” produced from an algorithmic combination of different colors, patterns and textures. 22 additional “AO Legend” and 169 “Artist Series” balls will feature unique designs by legacy artists and NFT.
Each ball represents a randomly assigned 19cm x 19cm tennis court surface area as each NFT is hit. Whenever a winning shot lands in this plot during a match at the 2022 Australian Open, the corresponding NFT will be updated in real time with match and ball tracking data.
There are also “fungible” rewards. If any of the 11 championship points land on a particular court, the corresponding NFT owner will receive the tennis ball used in a display case and a certificate of authenticity. Art ball owners will also have the opportunity to acquire limited edition clothing, merchandise, and other perks in the future. All parties involved have said they plan to offset the carbon emissions generated by the creation of NFTs.
The first tennis Grand Slam of the year also launches a metaverse experience on the Decentraland platform. Users will be able to look around a digital recreation of the Australian Open pitches in Melbourne and talk to players and other fans.
“With this next wave of technology, tennis fans around the world will have the opportunity to be a part of the 2022 Australian Open in a way never before available,” said tournament director Craig Tiley.
“The OA has always been considered one of the most innovative sporting events in the world and this project is just another example of our team pushing the boundaries to provide our fans with better access and engagement. “
Both initiatives reflect the ambition of the Australian Open and Tennis Australia to use digital technology to engage fans and drive growth. The latter has invested in various tech startups, while Tiley confirmed SportsPro last year that the organization was exploring business opportunities around NFTs and cryptocurrencies.