Premier League and EA Sports unite to launch FIFA 19 esports tournament
The Premier League has finally responded to rumours that it will be launching its own esports competition. The ePremier League tournament will allow gamers to compete on the FIFA 19 title from EA Sports and get the chance to play in a televised grand final. Simply by owning a copy of the FIFA 19 football simulator and an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 games console, football fans will be able to sign up to the tournament that begins in January 2019.
All 20 of the Premier League teams have opted into the ePremier League, and gamers can register for their favourite club in December 2018. It marks the first time that the Premier League has launched its own esports tournament, and is expected to surpass the FIFA eWorld Cup as the world’s most popular sports-based competitive gaming event. Whilst sports simulators have traditionally lagged behind first-person shooters and battle arena titles in the esports realm, the launch of the ePremier League looks to raise the profile of sports games even further.
What is the ePremier League competition format?
The ePremier League is open to all gamers who are aged 16 and over. Participants must have a copy of the FIFA 19 game, play on an XBox One or PS4, and register at e.premierleague.com. The registration period for the ePremier League starts on 3 December 2018 where gamers get chance to represent one of 20 Premier League teams.
From here, the online qualifying period will start in January 2019 and participants must compete to enter the club playoff stage. This will see the 16 highest ranked gamers for each team competing in venues selected by each of the Premier League clubs throughout February and March. The winning player from each club would then go through to the ePremier League grand final that takes place at the Gfinity Esports Arena in London on 28 and 29 March 2019.
Whilst the champion of the FIFA eWorld Cup wins a cash prize of $250,000, the winning player at the ePremier League grand final will only be awarded a trophy. Despite this, all competitors can look forward to picking up FIFA Global Series points which can be used to help the qualifying process towards the FIFA eWorld Cup. In addition to this, the grand final will be televised live via Sky Sports as well as the Premier League’s social media channels.
Why has the Premier League launched an esports tournament?
Whilst many traditional sports fans have been sceptical about the arrival of esports, there have been persistent rumours that the Premier League would be unveiling its own esports tournament, and it’s remarkable that it has taken so long. Seeing as the Premier League is the most-watched sports league in the world and has revenues of over £4.5 billion, it might not need the money. But with global esports revenues expected to top £1 in 2019, there’s no surprise that the Premier League has jumped at the chance to attract a younger audience.
It won’t be the first time that a top football league has created its own esports competition. The German Football League has already established a competitive gaming league in collaboration with Electronic Arts. This allows gamers to play for 36 of the top clubs in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 tables.
In addition to this, several football teams have already found success in organising their own esports teams. From Manchester City making the signing of the FIFA player, Kai ‘Deto’ Wollin, to represent them in PS4 competitions, to Barcelona making the controversial decision to compete in the Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 League, it seems that esports is the next logical step for many legendary teams.
What does this mean for EA Sports?
The decision by the Premier League to collaborate with EA Sports will certainly help the FIFA franchise in its fierce competition against Pro Evolution Soccer. Whilst PES has been considered to offer better gameplay, FIFA has managed to gain more in terms of official licensing, and this deal will certainly boost the game’s profile even further.
Sports simulators have traditionally under-performed in esports realm. With titles like Counter Strike Global Offensive, Overwatch and Fortnite being far more popular amongst younger gamers, it’s hoped that the launch of the ePremier League can drastically improve the visibility of sports games amongst dedicated esports fans.
Some football clubs like Schalke 04 and Fenerbahce have teams that compete in the League of Legends World Championships. But with both the Premier League and Bundesliga making bold moves to launch their official esports tournaments, it seems that football could soon stand alongside battle arena titles and first-person shooters in the competitive gaming domain.