A short while ago, football’s world governing body FIFA announced it would team with EA Sports to participate in a brand new FIFA 19 esports series.
Notably, the new eNations Cup will be based on individual countries participating. It will see 16 countries invited to submit a team of two players to compete on Xbox and PlayStation 4 on April 13 and 14.
The tournament will be played in the FIFA 19 Ultimate Team mode and will initially be an exhibition event, with the belief that it will become a regular part of the FIFA esports schedule should it prove to be a success. This new configuration joins the two other tournaments hosted by FIFA: the FIFA eClub World Cup and the FIFA eWorld Cup.
Of course, this means the 16 countries invited to participate in the inaugural eNations Cup now have the task of selecting their two players to represent them in the finals. In England at least, the Football Association has opened up the opportunity to all FIFA 19 players based in England ages 16 and over.
The FA, in conjunction with esports giants ESL, has set up a number of online qualifying tournaments for the FIFA 19 eNations Cup. Players that comply with the qualifying criteria to compete can register on either the Xbox One or PS4 consoles.
The initial phase of qualifiers will be contested online. The top players from the qualifiers earn places at the live finals, set for London on March 14. The winners of the live finals on PS4 and Xbox One will then go forward to represent England at the main tournament in April.
With the tournament a genuinely open competition, many of the top FIFA 19 professional players, who may have signed up with a team already, can elect to compete and become the first players to represent the newly formed eLions.
We know about England, but the other 15 teams remain unannounced. Of course, it’s likely it will be countries with strong followings in FIFA esports.
The online qualifiers will begin Saturday, March 9. Four finalists will progress to face other qualifiers at an as-yet-undisclosed venue in Central London on March 14.
Competition format TBD
FIFA is still poised to announce the full details of how the eNations Cup will be organized. That said, with 16 teams involved in the inaugural event, it seems likely the tournament will mirror the real-life tournaments run by FIFA around the world. To that end, expect to see four groups of four teams in the opening round of games. From there, the top two teams from each group might well progress into a knockout phase. Again though, this is all TBD.
The announcement, however, does show the strength of the current FIFA esports scene. A total of six Majors are now part of the Global Series 2019, and a number of new events are scheduled to take place this year, including the ePremier League and the FUT Champions Cup.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of the successful FIFA eClub World Cup tournament, which was held in London in February for the third time. KiNG eSports were the victorious team as they claimed victory over Dijon to take the $40,000 prize and succeed Brondby, who had won the previous two versions of the competition.
Image credit: Daniele Badolato – Juventus FC / Contributor / Getty Images