EA are not wasting any time in maximizing their recent acquisition of the rights of the UEFA Champions League, with the licensed tournament added to FIFA 19 and now set to provide the framework for an eSports competition. This introduction of a virtual Champions League indicates how the gap between sports and eSports is continuing to close.
Knockout tournaments in March will feature 64 of the finest FIFA 19 PS4 players, with just eight of those surviving a further competition in April. That octet of players will participate in the inaugural eChampions League final, with the rigorous qualification process set to ensure that quality will be high. The final takes place on May 31st , the day before the real Champions League final takes place. While the eSports event will not overshadow the actual Champions League this time around, it will be interesting to see what kind of audience the competition attracts.
Competitive FIFA 19 gaming now shares many of the same characteristics with football itself, emphasizing the growing popularity of eSports. Huge clubs like Manchester City and West Ham have signed gamers to represent their colors in eSports tournaments, while live streams of eSport events attract huge audiences. An expanding range of bookmakers offer odds on eSports, with the number of markets predicted to increase as the popularity of competitive gaming continues to rise, following its initial success in South Korea. These factors combine to bridge the gap between real football and virtual football, with high stakes and large crowds prominent in both forms of the sport.
EA have perhaps been slow to capitalize on the popularity of the soccer simulation by converting it into an eSport, with multiplayer action games like League of Legends and Dota 2 established as the heavyweights in the competitive gaming world. Yet, FIFA 19 has all of the ingredients to become an eSports powerhouse, deriving its appeal from the world’s most popular sport. FIFA 19 offers something that real-life soccer games cannot, with the ability to create unlikely line-ups tapping into the imaginations of sports fans.
It is this balance between realism and fantasy that will ensure that the eChampions League can attract audiences comparable to its real-life counterpart. The event will be one of the most prestigious features in the EA Sports FIFA 19 Global Series, with EA refining the structure of their competitive FIFA gaming to introduce clearer means of progression for those aspiring to be the best in the world.
Anyone who registered with FUT Champions before the end of October is now eligible to attempt to accumulate the 27 wins in the Weekend League needed to become verified, which thereby grants access to online competitions throughout the year. Racking up points in those events will propel players up the leaderboard, with those who finish in the top 60 able to compete in the Playoffs to have a shot at winning the FIFA eWorld Cup.
The blow of failing to claim that illustrious title can now be softened by success in the eChampions League. Competitive FIFA gaming resembles competitive soccer more than ever before. For the world’s elite and for those that follow them religiously, there will be no difference in terms of pressure and excitement between the virtual and the real world.