Thousands of tennis fans travel every year to tournaments to witness the best players in the world take to the court. The action, the drama and the incredible feats like Rafael Nadal’s during this French Open are inspiring and rewarding to watch.
Nadal defeating Casper Ruud in straight sets to win the 2022 French Open final was a historic triumph. Nadal achieved his 14th title at Roland Garros and his 22nd Grand Slam tournament, the most of all time.
Now, in addition to enjoying moments like this at Roland Garros, fans can continue to experience all the excitement of tennis sitting at the Philippe-Chatrier court, but virtually!
During the games, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) announced its first move into the metaverse for the French Open. Roland-Garros inaugurated a virtual version of the Philippe-Chatrier and launched a first collection of NFTs entitled ‘RG Game, Seat & Match‘ on the Polygon blockchain.
These NFTs are a unique collection of seats located in the lower stand of the famous clay court in a VR environment. Here fans can be part of a whole new community and enjoy exclusive benefits in a unique Web3 experience!
This is the second time a grand slam launched into the metaverse. Earlier this year, the Australian Open (AO) was the first to enter the virtual world, minting 6,776 AO Art Ball NFTs for fans to buy, whilst also hosting a virtual AO in Decentraland, a 3D virtual-world platform.
Each AO Art Ball’s metadata was linked to a 19cm x 19cm plot of each tennis court surface. When the winning shot from any of the 400+ AO matches landed on that plot, the NFT metadata was updated in real-time to include match highlights and statistics while rewarding the owner of that corresponding NFT with the tennis ball used in the championship point, in a specially handcrafted case.
The AO NFTs had further utility such as limited-edition wearables, AO merchandise, and other benefits which will be added in the future to continue engaging with the community of AO Art Ball NFTs.
Having two grand slams make a stake in Web3 is a great example of how customer engagement is evolving and highlights the opportunities for brands to drive loyalty in their markets. While the world waits to see if Wimbledon and the US Open jump on the bandwagon (which is almost expected), here is how the RG Game, Seat & Match work.
What is the RG Game, Seat & Match?
The RG Game, Seat & Match is an exclusive club for Rolland Garros NFT holders where members receive exclusive access to unique experiences, to participate in animations (raffles) to win prizes and receive other perks. The club creates a close-knit and active community that reflects the fervour of fans offering both physical and virtual experiences around the Roland Garros tournament.
To join the club tennis fans buy one of the 5,000 unique NFTs worth €200 each, which correspond to a virtual numbered seat on the Philippe-Chatrier court. Upon buying, NFTs are minted, registered in the blockchain and issued to members. The NFTs feature artwork differing in seat design, frame, number and background.
The RG Game, Seat & Match Benefits
During the launch at the 2022 French Open edition, NFT holders were able to access their numbered seats on the virtual 3D reproduction of the Philippe-Chatrier court. However, members were also able to show support for their favourite players by changing the colour of their seats, members could interact with other fans via the VoIP and instant messaging social media platform Discord and also play games and be part of animations.
The list of benefits that members accessed during the French Open 2022 edition included a variety of direct rewards that support the value proposition of the FFT and Roland Garros and efficient rewards that cost little and are highly sought after by members. This list will change over time with Roland Garros continuing to provide benefits to NFT holders.
Access to the virtual Philippe-Chatrier court of Roland-Garros.
- 55 chances to win a match ball from matches on the Philippe-Chatrier court, authenticated by a digital certificate in the form of an NFT
- Access to unique IRL (in real life) experiences through raffles, such as:
– Playing on the Roland Garros courts
– Winning tickets to the next editions of the Paris Grand Slam
– Winning tickets to the Rolex Paris Masters
– Meeting professional players
– Visiting the backstage area of Roland Garros stadium or
– Attending other major tennis events worldwide
- Access to the whitelist of upcoming Roland-Garros NFTs sales
- Priority access to the Roland-Garros 2023 ticketing
- Draws and contests to win exclusive prizes
- 15% discount on a selection of products at the Roland-Garros boutique
- Participation in the RG DAO to influence elements that directly affect the tournament and the “RG Game, Seat & Match” operation
- AMA’s (ask me anything) and exclusive conferences on Discord
The highlight of the RG Game, Seat & Match launch was to win one of the 55 match balls played on Centre Court during the 2022 tournament (from the first rounds to the finals). In addition to winning a physical ball, winning members also received a Ball NFT as a certificate of authenticity. Match ball winners were selected by a draw based on a predefined combination of statistics of each match. This gave members that additional level of engagement whilst watching matches and following their status to win a ball.
The future of RG Game, Seat & Match
Moving forward, members are able to resell their NFTs on NFT marketplaces that accept the Polygon blockchain such as OpenSea, Rarible or NFTically. A 10% fee will be charged for each resale on the secondary market. But the most exciting element for RG Game, Seat & Match NFT owners is that they can participate in the RG DAO - a community-led entity with no central authority, fully autonomous and transparent based on a set of rules encoded as a computer program.
As loyalty consultants, we see this element as the most exciting part of the membership; it is the ultimate way to engage with members, and is likely the beginning of the emergence of omniadvocates.
Members can vote, propose changes, and define the future of the very program they are part of. Besides, a percentage of the proceeds every time an NFT is sold, automatically helps fund the RG DAO and any new projects potentially making the club self-sufficient.
Roland Garros has started to build a deeply engaged community that will interact and benefit from the ownership of RG Game, Seat & Match NFTs in the years to come. The exclusive collection is only the beginning of many Web3 ventures: partnerships with other NFT collections, artistic collaborations, the development of unique virtual experiences and other ambitious projects.
During Q3 2022, the community will receive further utility from their NFT such as gifts and giveaways from the tournament, but also (and most importantly) access to the first version of the DAO will open. In Q4 2022, the FFT and Roland Garros will conduct workshops around partnerships and metaverses, and in Q1 2023 the RG Game, Seat & Match 2.0 will be revealed.
The future of tennis looks very exciting as it’s highly likely, and expected, that Wimbledon and the US Open will make a move to a Web3 environment too. For the loyalty profession community this is a great industry to watch. The experience of attending a tournament will be enhanced with new and rewarding ways for players and fans alike driving a highly engaged and loyal community as members will now have a say and stakes in the grand slams.
Federico Rosas Couret is a Senior Strategy Consultant at Loyalty & Reward Co, Australia’s leading loyalty consulting agency. He has worked in the loyalty and advertising agency space for over fifteen years and has successfully set up and managed loyalty programs for several B2C and B2B brands across Automotive, Technology, Food and Retail industries.
Federico applies his skills across all aspects of the business, with particular expertise in loyalty program design, member engagement and the development and management of program and member lifecycle communications strategy.