Roland-Garros eSeries: behind the scenes of the FFT esports competition


Before the start of the French Open, the final of the fifth edition of the Roland-Garros eSeries, the virtual tennis competition of the FFT, took place on the Philippe-Chatrier court. Digital was there.

Since Sunday May 22, 2022, the best tennis players in the world have been competing for the Mousquetaires Cup at Roland-Garros. But before the start of the Parisian episode of the Grand Slam, one person has already lifted a trophy on the Philippe-Chatrier court: William Foster. This name means nothing to you ? However, this Briton is a champion… of e-tennis! Indeed, on the sidelines of the 2022 edition of the French Open, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) organized the fifth edition of the Roland-Garros eSeries, a virtual tennis competition created in 2018. Digital went to see what it looks like.

That the purists of the small yellow ball are reassured, the clay of the Porte d’Auteuil was not degraded during this competition. This took place in the salons of the Philippe-Chatrier court on the game Tennis Clash. However, it was not necessary to look for a PlayStation, an Xbox or a PC, as is customary in e-sports competitions, but smartphones.

Tennis Clash

Tennis Clash

Tennis Clash is a free, multiplayer mobile video game for Android and iOS that lets you play tennis against players around the world. Become a legend on international grounds!

  • Version :
  • Downloads:
  • Release date :
  • Author :
    Wildlife Studios
  • Licence :
    Free License
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  • Operating system :

    Android, iOS iPhone / iPad

Eight players qualified for Roland-Garros among 238,000 participants

Tennis Clash is a mobile game, whose graphics are somewhat reminiscent of Fortnitefamous title of battle royale to 200 million fans worldwide. Video game tennis seems to have found its audience since the company that publishes Tennis ClashWildlife Studios, boasts over 90 million downloads, 6 million monthly active players and nearly 1 million daily active players worldwide.

For this game to be the scene of the Roland-Garros eSeries, qualifying phases have been organized in recent weeks, two of which are open to the general public. Two others have been reserved for Women in Games, an association that works for diversity in the video game industry, and XP School, an e-sport school and gaming. These four stages qualified eight players for the grand final which took place on May 21 at Roland-Garros. A total of 238,000 people tried their luck at this fifth edition of the Roland-Garros eSeries.

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An exceptional setting in which it is not easy to concentrate

For these eight players as for the teams of the FFT, this day was not easy, especially when the internet connection at Roland-Garros decided to act up in the morning. But after this technical hiccup that created some cold sweats for the organizers, the group stage was able to take place in a lounge on the Philippe-Chatrier court. Upon arrival, four players from four different countries (France, United Kingdom, Germany and Colombia) validated their ticket for the final phase. This is what we were able to follow.

First, the decor was gorgeous. The FFT has indeed put the small dishes in the big ones by installing the last four players in the running in the media bar, on the top floor of the Philippe-Chatrier court. While the setting was magnificent, it must not have been easy for the e-tennis champions to concentrate. Because around them, a dozen people watched their games, without necessarily being very discreet.

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Moreover, it was the moment chosen by the teams of the stadium to make the speakers of the center court spit. The four corners of the latter being now completely closed following its renovation, not to mention the deployed roof which hardly lets any sound escape outside, this creates a huge sounding board. And it shook the windows of the living room in which the players competed… Not easy to play in these conditions!

Roland-Garros eSeries

An amazing scene

That didn’t stop William Foster, aka Fozzy, from crushing the competition. After easily beating his Colombian opponent in his semi-final, the Brit won three sets to one (10-5, 10-4, 9-11, 10-3) against Frenchman Anass “Anteo” Benghazi . During the final, it was also amusing to observe the smirks of William Foster when he won important points, while his French opponent sometimes seemed a bit annoyed at the turn of events.

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When the two finalists were immersed in their virtual match, the scene was somewhat unusual from the outside. Because instead of scrutinizing people competing with controllers on fairly large screens, we simply saw two players tapping on their smartphones, without the benefit of video feedback.

There was a screen for that, but it was aimed at the players, who were focused on the screen of their smartphone. Therefore, the other people in the room had their eyes glued to their cell phones to follow the finale. Gilles Moretton, the president of the FFT, was no exception, and it was funny to see him attend this e-tennis meeting in the same way on the terrace overlooking the Philippe-Chatrier court.

The best place to watch the final was probably in the control room located right next to the players and which broadcast the event on Twitch as part of a show broadcast on the channel of the streamer Rivenzi, along with Ponce and LittleBigWhale. Because the Roland-Garros eSeries were the subject of a three-hour broadcast, during which the three streamers exchanged on the set with the French tennis players Alizé Cornet and Jules Marie. The latter even played a game of virtual tennis… on Switch Sport. A choice that may seem surprising on the sidelines of a competition organized on another game, but why not!

It’s very nice that a French sports federation wants to support e-sport.

LittleBigWhale, streamer

Once the final phase started, the three streamers, who commented on the matches in a good mood between analyzes on the game of each competitor and a few jokes to lighten the atmosphere, did not fail to support the Frenchman Anass Benghazi, like the would certainly make the public of the Philippe-Chatrier court when a tricolor is in action. Despite their encouragement, however, the latter could not do anything in the final against William Foster.

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Still, at the end of the day, smiles were out on the faces of participants and streamers. LittleBigWhale was not hiding his pleasure after the outcome of the Roland-Garros eSeries: “It was absolutely amazing! We were in an idyllic setting.” But beyond the frame, the streamer appreciated the message sent through this competition. “It’s very nice that a French sports federation wants to support e-sport, and to further this by creating tournaments and organizing events. I’m very happy to see that”she told the Digital. “For Roland-Garros and the FFT, this allows the brand to shine internationally and to involve e-sportspeople in another format”she added.

Inevitably, the winner William Foster was smiling after this day during which he lost no match. He was the favorite and held his rank perfectly. “When I started playing this game two years ago, I couldn’t imagine myself coming to Roland-Garros to play the grand final of such a tournament. It was truly amazing”entrusted the British champion to the Digital. During the presentation of the trophy, Gilles Moretton did not fail to compare him to Rafael Nadal, not without humor of course. The comparison stops there, since if the winner of Roland-Garros will leave with 2.2 million euros this year. Fozzy won €3,500.

The main thing was elsewhere, insofar as this mobile game was not necessarily intended to lend itself to an e-sport competition. It might be better on a console game to create an even bigger and more visually fitting event for viewers. Still, there has to be a reference tennis video game, which hasn’t been the case for a decade. If the editors of Top Spin 4 hear us…

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