Asian start-up Ballr aiming to connect the world of football

Have you ever dreamed of walking out onto the pitch at Anfield or watching El Clasico at Camp Nou? Perhaps you’d like to get your hands on a signed football shirt or a new smartphone, all while earning bragging rights over your mates?

Those types of prizes and experiences could soon be yours, all courtesy of Ballr, a new gaming platform that allows fans to connect, compete and communicate as you watch live football.  

Ballr is a free app based on live football that allows you to pick your team in real-time as you watch the match, winning points based on your players’ involvement in the game. Every single moment counts and top-scorers win epic prizes each match. 

Fantasy Sport has been around for years. We wanted to create something much more real-time, rewarding those who understand the flow of the live game

- Ballr CEO Sam Jones

The brainchild of Ballr Founder and CEO, Sam Jones, the platform targets the enormous football fanbase in Asia, enabled by exploding smartphone penetration across the region.

"I noticed a few mega trends two years back,” Jones explained to FourFourTwo.

“Football is the number one sport in Asia and growing fast. Secondly, the majority of people who watch live football have a mobile device in their pocket.

“Thirdly, mobile gaming continues to explode as a category (Angry Birds got 50 million users in 35 days). Finally, I noticed that so many fans watch football in isolation at home or in a pub, perhaps exchanging the odd sms with mates about a dangerous tackle or missed penalty.

“I could see a technology gap, a missed opportunity to connect people through live sport." 

Targeting hardcore football fans as well as those who are yet to fall in love with the beautiful game, Ballr has deliberately steered away from any form of gambling. 

"It was very important to us that Ballr was free to play and super simple to use,” Jones added.

“We studied apps like Tinder and Uber to understand what makes them so simple and effective. Ballr is trying to be a fan's second screen. People don't want to be distracted from the match with a complicated app.

“Fantasy Sport has been around for years. We wanted to create something that was much more real-time, rewarding those who understand the flow of the live game. 

It only takes a few seconds for a crunching tackle at Anfield to be converted to 1,200 points to a spectator on Orchard Road, Singapore

“It was also important that whilst playing Ballr, you could take on a world leaderboard watching Manchester United, or just people in Singapore, or just 10 friends or 30 people in a bar.

“Ultimately, we believe football is better to watch when you are competing against friends!”

In a Ballr match, the global prize might be three tickets to El Clasico, with winners flown to Madrid and able to walk on the Santiago Bernabeu pitch before the game.

The Singapore prizes might be 50 shirts to give away or 20 Samsung phones, while the game against your friends might have the ability to trade virtual beers.

With offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Moscow, Ballr has secured commercial partnerships with some of the biggest football clubs in the world as well as Spain’s La Liga. 

Ballr Founder and CEO Sam Jones

The platform has been 12 months in the making, funded by Asian investors. 

"The Ballr experience starts in the stadiums. We have people in every major football stadium tracking every single event in real-time,” Jones said.

“Every pass, touch, tackle, shot, volley, save and goal has a unique identity, is time stamped and tagged to a player.

BALLR

“We call this digitising live sport. Ballr converts each discreet event into a points value. This forms the basis of a video game people can play on their smartphone against millions of other fans in real time.

“It only takes a few seconds for a crunching tackle at Anfield to be converted to 1,200 points to a spectator on Orchard Road, Singapore." 

Ballr are passionate about creating epic experiences and prizes for winners.

"There are thousands of gambling companies where you can win cash,” Jones said. “We are much more excited about creating moments that a Ballr winner will never forget.”

As well as tickets to El Clasico, secured through Ballr’s La Liga partnership, winners could get VIP treatment at Juventus Stadium or fly on the team jet with a top EPL club. 

Tickets to El Clasico are just one of the prizes on offer

Ballr will cover every major football league and tournament in world football, giving fans endless chances to connect to friends and win prizes. 

Users pick players for five-minute blocks and all of their actions in that period are converted into points values.

For example, a defender scoring a goal is worth 5,000 points and a defender scoring from outside the penalty area is worth 7,500 points, while there are smaller rewards for attacking players.

A goalkeeper saving a penalty would be worth 25,000 points, while points are deducted for negative play. The worst event is a player being sent off for violent conduct, which could cost a user 500,000 points.

Ballr will start hosting live events under the banner ‘Ballr Live’ in partnership with ESports platform ‘HK ESports’.

Planning is underway for 500 competitors to assemble in Hong Kong in May. All participants will watch a live EPL game while playing Ballr head-to-head against those in the venue. Winners will be flown to an EPL game.

Ballr launches this weekend, March 18/19,  for EPL fixtures in Asian markets on iOS and Android.

Download the app to iOS and Android and find more details at ballr.com