Major League Soccer, North America’s professional soccer league, is launching its own competitive FIFA league.
Dubbed eMLS, the league will see FIFA 18 players from the US and Canada battle for a spot in the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018.
Growing competitive gaming in North America
Announced earlier this week, this launch is great news for the ongoing development of competitive gaming in North America. Nineteen out of 23 MLS teams will participate in the inaugural season. Each will have its own recruiting process for representative players.
“We’re honored to partner with MLS within the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series as we continue to help grow competitive gaming and soccer in North America,” said EA Competitive Gaming Division Senior VP and General Manager Todd Sitrin. “With the eMLS we accelerate our growth as players compete on the road to the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018.”
The players representing individual clubs will first compete at the eMLS Cup, an event taking place during this year’s PAX East gaming convention. PAX East will take place April 5-8 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The eMLS Cup will also count as the EA Sports FIFA 18 Global Series Playoffs, a competition in which participants for the FIFA eWorld Cup are chosen.
“We are excited to unveil eMLS,” said MLS Business Ventures President and Managing Director Gary Stevenson. “This step forward into competitive gaming is a key component in our partnership with EA SPORTS to promote deeper engagement and connections between MLS supporters and the millions of FIFA players around the world.”
Further details — including prize money, tournament structure, and player salaries — have yet to be announced.
Virtual soccer leagues on the rise
The eMLS is part of a growing number of virtual soccer leagues. The German Virtual Bundesliga, for example, is already celebrating its sixth season. It also recently extended its collaboration with EA for four more seasons.
France also launched its own professional esports soccer league. A partnership with EA in October 2016 brought to life the e-Ligue 1, with 20 participating clubs.
Eredivisie, or the Dutch premier league, announced the E-Divisie in January this year. The competitive virtual soccer league features 18 clubs from the premier league.
Moreover, soccer is not the only sport with a large virtual contingent. As evidenced by the NBA 2K Esports League, basketball has also seen recent success.
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