Roland Garros Esports: Interview with Anass Benghazi

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The 2023 edition of Roland Garros will not be exclusively reserved for the best male and female tennis players in the world: there will also be the best players of Tennis Clash, a mobile video game from Wildlife Studios. A title that today has 120 million downloads and has registered more than 238,000 subscribers from 207 countries for the qualifications for the French tournament.

The first Roland Garros without Nadal

Commonly known as Roland Garros for its eponymous host stadium in honor of the French Air Force aviator in World War I, the French Open will not see Rafael Nadal for the first time in exactly 20 years. For all Rafa, the 14-time winner of the competition had to give up due to now frequent knee problems that will force him to leave the circuit’s Top 100 for the first time since his debut.

Between an Alcaraz and a Swiatek, between a Medvedev and a Sabalenka, number one and two respectively on the men’s and women’s circuit, there will be a lot of gaming and esports at Roland Garros again this year. As for several years, also in 2023, the French Federation had recently announced the return of the Roland Garros eSeries Bnp Paribas. It is the largest digital tennis tournament in the world, and don’t forget that eTennis will also be the protagonist of the next Olympic Esports Series in Singapore at the end of June, an event directly sponsored by the IOC, the International Olympic Committee.

eTennis at Roland Garros

The French tennis federation, organizer of the real clay court event, has been following its path in esports for several years. Tennis Clash General Manager Dotan Arad had recently stated that “Being part of Bnp Paribas’ Roland-Garros eSeries is an honor and we strive to provide our players with the best possible content and a premium experience. Offering them the opportunity To participate in Roland-Garros, on the same circuit as professional tennis players, is a dream come true for many.”

For example, it has become for William Foster, winner of the 2022 edition and it will be for those who have qualified for the 2023 edition and who will participate in the €5,000 prize pool. The final will be played on May 26 in the same stadium where the qualifiers for the main draw started, on the real tennis side. Also among the participants in the tournament will be Anass Benghazi, a veteran professional eTennis player, who was a finalist against Foster last year.

The exclusive interview: Benghazi’s career

Benghazi, a figure of reference on the French and international scene, at 35 years old is certainly not very young by esports standards. Still, he is a passion that transcends age and started playing for fun just before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Anass is also involved in coaching the new generation of tennis esports, thanks to his experience of now two and a half years in the competitive environment. We had the exclusive opportunity to talk to him about the event that is about to begin, starting with what stopped him from winning the trophy a year ago: “I think I could have used more confidence in myself . I could not quickly adapt to the best of the mobile phone used. Shame”.

Foster will be at the live final again this year. Is Anass looking for revenge from a sporting point of view? “Right now all I’m thinking about is being optimistic and keeping a winning mentality. I’ve never played as much as I do these days to train, also taking part in the weekly tournaments organized by Tennis Clash itself. The fact remains that I would definitely like to play against Fozzy (Foster’s nickname, red) again and take my revenge. He’s an incredible player and he’s a wonderful person who loves traditional tennis. I can’t wait to challenge him for the title and then celebrate together over a drink, whoever wins.”

Esports in the temple of tennis

What may seem strange to eTennis players is playing in the exact same place where tennis history was written: where Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and many others have recently passed. No? “I admit it always feels strange at first to play so close to center court, but I think it’s actually very exciting for a tennis fan like myself to be in a temple of sport like this.”

Benghazi even told us that his passion stems from traditional tennis. “I have been playing tennis since I was twelve. It became a part of my life and I played in many amateur tournaments when I was younger.” Today, as expected, he is not only a player, but also dedicated to teaching the video game to newcomers. game and the different tactics that can be used. Some of them are totally new to Tennis Clash, so I have to start from the bottom and explain how the animations work and give useful tips. But for me it’s also useful: we play a lot of training matches and that allows me to analyze them better, so that I can look more critically.”

From Roland Garros to the video game Olympics

As announced by the IOC at the end of February, Tennis Clash and other video game titles will be part of the Olympic Esports Series, a competition that replaces the previous Olympic Virtual Series. But what does Anass think of this increasingly close relationship between sports and esports? “I would say that when someone plays a certain sport and has some interest in video games, they are more inclined to try the corresponding game. However, there are also many examples of people who are not actually into sports, but are video game champions. It’s just a matter of dedication and how much time and sacrifice you invest in learning the tactics, whether it’s a sport or an e-sport, it makes no difference.”

Paris will host the Olympic Games in 2024. Ability to see directly connected esports events? “Unfortunately I have no news about it, but I am convinced that if they finally organize them, it would be really great. The Olympic Esports Week will soon take place in Singapore with the finals of the Esports Series, an event entirely dedicated to gaming and sports. Unfortunately I was not able to qualify, the competition was very tough: but I would have loved to be there, it will be fantastic”.


Source : Corriere Dello Sport

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