With all football on pause at the moment, there’s a new sensation capturing the attention of starved supporters: Ultimate QuaranTeam. But just what is this event? Here, Peter Watton, from matched betting specialists OddsMonkey, covers everything you need to know.

Up and down the country, every football fan is in a confused state right now. Our brain knows that the coronavirus has cancelled the season, but we still feel an urge to pay attention when 3pm on a Saturday rolls around. Well, you’ll be happy to know the inventive people at Leyton Orient have got a solution, and it’s called Ultimate QuaranTeam.

What is Ultimate QuaranTeam?

Between the loo roll keepy-ups, Tom Hanks castaway impressions, and charitable work, the football world has still been busy. However, it’s League Two club Leyton Orient have caught the attention of many fans by organising a FIFA 20 video game tournament they’ve named Ultimate QuaranTeam.

Originally, the club contacted 63 other teams to take part in the cup, but interest was so widespread that they expanded it to 128 teams, including those from around the world. The tournament will be a round-robin knockout format, and there were 64 first round ties drawn live on Orient’s Twitter.

Even better news is that QuaranTeam is going to raise some essential funds for charities like Mind and the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fundraiser, as well as helping to fund struggling lower league football clubs lacking revenue.

Who is taking part?

There are many club teams from the UK and beyond that are taking part in the cup, with every level of the English professional game represented. Interest is worldwide, too, so we’re going to see quite a few entrants from overseas as well.

Sides from the Premier League include Man City, Newcastle, Wolves, and West Ham, while the Championship will see participation from the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest, and Charlton. Teams from League One and Two, such as Sunderland, Portsmouth, and Leyton Orient themselves, will also compete in the first round. There also clubs from across the world taking part, like Fiorentina (Italy), Lokomotiv Moscow (Russia), Orlando City (USA), and Standard Liege (Belgium).

However, if you’re not familiar with e-sports, its important to remember that success on the real pitch doesn’t mean success on the virtual one. Some clubs are taking this seriously, with members of their professional gaming team taking control, while others are just taking part by allowing players or part of their media team to have a go. The same player will be in charge in every match.

When is Ultimate QuaranTeam happening?

It’s already underway! At the time of writing, the first round of fixtures has taken place, with the winning teams moving on to round two. The schedule looks like this:

  • Round of 128: from Sunday 22 March, 19:00 GMT
  • Round of 64: from Tuesday 24 March, 19:00 GMT
  • Round of 32: from Thursday 26 March, 19:00 GMT
  • Round of 16: from Saturday 28 March, 19:00 GMT
  • Quarter-final: from Monday 30 March, 19:00 GMT
  • Semi-final: from Wednesday 1 April, 19:00 GMT
  • Final: from Friday 3 April, 19:00 GMT

Who are the favourites?

If you fancy having a bet on the Ultimate QuaranTeam tournament, you’re in luck, as many bookies have a markets going to make up for the lack of regular football action. Let’s take a look at some of the top tips for the win.

Middlesbrough — 9/2

Player Lukas Nmecha was supposed to be controlling Middlesbrough, but a last-minute line-up shift saw pro FIFA star Danny Taylor take the reins. A convincing 3-0 victory over Huddersfield in round one saw them installed as the favourites.

Nantes — 4/1

When Swindon Town player Cameron McGlip was drawn against French club Nantes’ FIFA eWorld Cup winner Bruce Grannec it was meant to be a walkover — but it ended in a 0-0 draw. The e-sports pro improved in the replay and won 2-1, a result the bookies were impressed by.

Angers — 6/1

French club Angers turned to their e-sports star Sneaky for the cup and promptly eviscerated poor Irish side Waterford 10-0 in the first round. This result has turned them into ones to watch.

Man City — 8/1

Like their on-pitch approach, the Citizens put their finest e-sports star Shellzz forward for the tournament. A shaky start against KV Kortrijk needed a replay, but they won 3-0 at the second attempt. It was enough to keep them as a top contender, but they’re no longer the hot favourites.

Sheffield Wednesday — 10/1

Another side with big ambitions are Sheff Wed, who turned to fan and FIFA pro Tom Delee to play as them in the cup. A tidy 2-1 win over Cambridge United’s streamer Chris Wood saw Delee installed as a top contender with the bookmakers.

How can I get involved in Ultimate QuaranTeam?

You can keep up with the action across YouTube, Twitch, and Twitter, where the clubs involved are live streaming their matches — it might take a little research to find out where to watch your club of choice. It’s also possible to donate to the cause through the tournament’s Just Giving page.