Premier League announces first official eSports competition with Fifa 19
The Premier League has announced its first official eSports competition will take place in 2019.
The ePremier League (ePL) will use EA Sports football game Fifa 19 as its platform and will have all 20 clubs from the division represented by fans who win qualification tournaments to reach a grand final.
Two representatives from each club – one playing on PlayStation 4 and another on Xbox One – will then appear at the ePL final in London on March 28 and 29 next year to crown an overall champion.
The Premier League confirmed the finals would be broadcast live on Sky Sports and the league’s own social media channels.
Competitive gaming has grown in popularity in recent years, with dozens of official leagues already in place around the world for high-profile video games such as Call of Duty.
Premier League managing director Richard Masters said: “EA Sports is a fantastic partner for the Premier League and we are looking forward to launching ePremier League with them.
“We know that millions of fans play FIFA and this new eSports competition will provide our clubs with an exciting opportunity to engage with them. We can’t wait to get started with the opening online rounds in January 2019.”
Registration for the tournament will begin in December, open to all UK residents over the age of 16.
Gamers will be able to select the team they wish to represent and take part in initial online qualifiers.
These will be followed by club playoffs, where the top 16 players per club on each console platform will compete to decide their two representatives at the final in March.
At the finals, matches will take place over two legs in a group-stage format on both PlayStation and Xbox to determine an overall champion.
Todd Sitrin, general manager of Electronic Art’s competitive gaming division, said: “The Premier League’s global reach and intensely passionate fanbase pushes EA Sports FIFA competition to unprecedented heights as we accelerate esports growth through traditional sports.
“Through the ePL, this partnership carves a critical path forward in expanding competition not only for players, but for the hundreds of millions watching Premier League games who now can support their club on the virtual and the traditional pitch.”
Earlier this year, the Fifa eWorld Cup Finals took place at the O2 in London, where a £190,000 prize was on offer.
Officials from several different eSports have also held preliminary talks with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over competitive gaming becoming part of the Olympic Games in the future.