The Balloon World Cup, which was hosted by popular streamer Ibai and professional soccer player Gerard Piqué, saw a surge in interest and viewership for the informal balloon-centered sport. Balloon Keep-up is a sport that almost everyone has tried; if you’ve ever tried to keep a balloon suspended in the air using your hands or feet, you’ve tried it.
On October 14, FC Barcelona hosted an event in Tarragona, Spain, in front of a live audience. According to viewership-tracking site Esports Charts, the event received over eight million total views on Twitch and peaked at just over 632,000 concurrent viewers.
The Balloon World Cup featured 32 teams from around the world competing for their respective countries. Francisco De La Cruz of Peru and Jan Spiess of Germany competed in the finals. Francisco De La Cruz led Peru to its first Balloon World Cup title with a 6-2 victory.
Diego and Antonio Arredondo, United States representatives, were the ones who first came up with the idea for the game, which eventually exploded in popularity on Twitch. The duo’s TikTok video of them playing Balloon Keep-up in their living room became a Twitch phenomenon.
All of the games took place in a recreation of a typical living room, complete with changing environments and furniture that served as parkour platforms and obstacles. The event even included a small Volkswagen car in the center of the playing arena for the finals.
There are only two rules to balloon keep-up. First and foremost, you cannot obstruct your opponents’ ability to move or hit the balloon. Second, you must make contact with the balloon in such a way that it rises rather than falls.
The Balloon World Cup’s massive success rivaled the viewership and buzz surrounding ongoing, storied esports events like TI10 and Worlds 2021. There has been no word on whether a second Balloon Keep-up event will be held in the near future, but the inaugural World Cup’s success may inspire future competitions.