For the first two years of its history, the FIFA eClub World Cup champions have been the Danish team Brondby, representing the Danish professional football team of the same name. However, this past weekend in the third running of this annual FIFA event, it would be a different name being etched onto the winner’s trophy.
That’s because KiNG eSports became the first esports organisation, rather than esports representatives of a professional football team, to claim the FIFA eClub World Cup over the weekend with a superb and comprehensive victory in the event which was held in London.
Their victory was not a surprise however. The team had topped the FIFA Global Series Rankings on both PlayStation and Xbox heading into the event and comprised of a two-time FUT Champions Cup Winner in ‘Tekkz’ as well as the 2018 Grand Finalist ‘nicolas99FC’. Their already strong pedigree on paper, was then put to the test as the tournament got down to the latter stages on the second day of action on Sunday.
The group stages
The first day saw the 16 teams that had qualified compete in the group stages. Seven representatives of professional teams, including two-time FIFA eClub World Cup winners Brondby, battled it out against nine esports organisations for one of eight places in the knockout phase.
Matches between the teams took on the same format. The xBox player on each team would face off as would the PlayStation 4 player. If after these two games the teams were tied on points (for example, if both games had finished in a draw, or one player had won and the other lost for both teams) then a third deciding match with both players playing on the same team, would be played to decide the winner.
If this third match was tied after 90 minutes, then extra time and penalties would be used to decide the outcome of the game.
Four of the seven professional teams’ representatives made it to Sunday and the quarterfinal stage, but by the semifinals, just one of the professional teams remained in the tournament and that was one of the lesser-known teams in Dijon. They would take on FaZe Clan in the first semifinal, with KiNG eSports facing surprise Turkish organisation Futbolist in the second semifinal.
That meant the teams representing some of the bigger names in the tournament, such as Wolves, Manchester City, Ajax and current champions Brondby, all fell by the wayside before the semifinal stage.
The semi-finals provided plenty of drama with Dijon continuing their excellent run of form as FaZe Clan’s luck finally ran out. FaZe had required extra time and then a penalty shootout to finally get past Ajax in the quarterfinal stage. At that same stage, Dijon had surprised many pundits by earning a fabulous victory over Manchester City.
They produced a solid performance to defeat the fancied FaZe Clan and move on to the final, with ‘Herozia’ being a standout performer throughout the tournament, losing just one of his games to be the driving force for the French team.
In that final they would face KiNG eSports who were taken to two-player deciders in both their quarterfinal and semifinal ties after looking incredibly strong on the opening day of action. In the quarterfinal, Imperial pushed them all the way before KiNG won the third game in the series and the same situation followed in the semifinal where the Turkish outsiders Futbalist took them to a third game before KiNG once again prevailed.
The final though proved to be a different story as both ‘Tekkz’ and ‘nicolas99FC’ won their head-to-head encounter against their Dijon counterpart to ensure that a deciding match was not required. In doing so they claimed the lion’s share of $40,000 from the $100,000 prize pool.
Speaking after their win, ‘Tekkz’ spoke to Sky Sports, who were showing all the action from the company’s studios in London, live on their Sky Sports channels, and the victorious star stated as reported on the FIFA official site:
“I haven’t won for a while, I always lose in the semi-finals, so I will be posting the leaderboards out tonight. Everyone thought I’d be gone after the [latest] patch, but I’m still here!”
FIFA esports tournaments happening all year round
The FIFA eClub World Cup is just one of a number of big esports events sanctioned by FIFA that are taking place throughout the year that are all part of the FIFA Global Series of events, which lead up to the FIFA eWorld Cup, which takes place in July and August.
Competitors can earn points by playing in the different qualifying events and Final tournaments leading up to the FIFA eWorld Cup, to hopefully accrue enough points to earn a place in the finals of the biggest FIFA tournament to of the year.
Currently, it is KiNG eSports player ‘nicolas99fc’ that leads the rankings having amassed 3355 points so far, ‘StefanoPinna_21’ from Belgium is hot on his tails however, with ‘Joksan—’ from the United States in third place having been overtaken by the Belgian player this past weekend.
You can find all the details on the lengthy and sometimes complicated qualifying process for the FIFA eWorld Cup on the Global Series 2019 Overview page on the main FIFA website.
With excellent support from Sky Sports across the weekend, FIFA esports once again accounted for a significant amount of TV-time in the UK on standard commercial channels, not just esports-specialist broadcasters, and once again this highlights the growing appeal of esports as a televised event. So much so that Sky will be covering further FIFA esports events in future live on its sports channels.
The tournament also provided viewers with a number of exciting games and new teams and players coming to the fore alongside the more established and famous teams. The success of Futbalist, the first Turkish team to reach this stage of the tournament, being a particular highlight as was the success in reaching the final of the Dijon team.
The burgeoning health of the FIFA esports scene continues to improve and it all makes for a very interesting 2019 season in the months to come.
Photo credit: FIFA eWorld Cup 2019™