Arlington, Va. - The Washington Capitals and Caps Gaming hosted the first-ever American Special Hockey Association (ASHA) Esports Challenge on the Capitals Twitch Channel on Sunday, June 6. A total of 48 special hockey athletes from 48 cities across the United States and Canada played EA SPORTS™ NHL® 21 in an adaptive virtual tournament that raised $70,000 for ASHA programming. The broadcast saw 143,128 live viewers.
Each player represented their home ASHA teams to compete for prizes and raise awareness toward special hockey. The Capitals were joined by nine other NHL clubs and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C. in supporting the event. The tournament followed seven weeks of practice and 960 volunteer hours contributed.
NHL esports athlete and Bauer athlete Andrew "Nasher" Telfer hosted the event and was joined by guest stars in support of the special hockey athletes. In addition, 16 of the top EA SPORTS™ NHL® 21 competitive players volunteered to coach a team, guiding the athletes each step of the way from setting up their console to scoring their first goal. A dozen celebrity coaches and mascots from 10 NHL Teams also participated in the challenge to support the esports athletes.
Fans were invited to support special hockey by texting "ASHA esports" to 71777. Each ASHA esports Challenge athlete was raising funds in support of their home special hockey team. All proceeds will benefit special hockey programming. In recognition of its longstanding support for ASHA's mission and programs, the UAE Embassy in Washington, D.C. has pledged a $10,000 grant.
ASHA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving those with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities through the sport of hockey. ASHA provides an environment of learning, mutual respect and a sense of community to 5,000 participants in over 100 programs across the United States of America. To learn more, visit SpecialHockey.org.
Caps Gaming and the Washington Capitals are owned and operated by Monumental Sports & Entertainment. Monumental Sports & Entertainment launched Caps Gaming presented by Leidos - an esports sub-brand that aims to help foster the growth of the NHL competitive gaming community and create visibility for hockey's esports scene - in November 2019. Upon launching, the team also signed the first NHL esports pro officially signed by an NHL organization. Most recently, Caps Gaming facilitated The Great One vs. The Great Eight Showcase in April 2020, a competition between Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and NHL legend Wayne Gretzky that raised more than $40,000 for COVID-19 related causes. In addition, Caps Gaming hosted the premier Caps Gaming Showcase - a 82-team, 6v6 EA SPORTS NHL competition on Xbox One in December 2019, followed by the Caps Gaming Showcase Finals in February 2020. The 2020-21 Caps Gaming Showcase launched in December and concluded in March, with more than $20,000 in prizing awarded.
In 2019, the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC provided support for ASHA when the UAE Women's National Hockey Team hosted on-ice clinics in the US. In addition, UAE-USA United was a presenting sponsor of the 2020 Caps Gaming 3s Challenge-bringing together 32 of the top 3s squads in the NHL gaming community for a double-elimination tournament. To learn more, visit www.uaeusaunited.com/esports-uae.