Electronic Arts and the English Premier League have partnered to form the ePremier League, an FIFA 19 esports tournament available to U.K.-based gamers. All 20 Premier League clubs will be represented in the tournament to give “players the chance to live their dream of winning a title for their favourite club,” according to an official press release.
Registration for the ePL starts Dec. 3 and opening online qualification matches kick off in January. The top 32 players (16 apiece from Xbox One and PS4) will then face off in the playoffs to determine club representatives for the final, which will be played at the Gfinity esports arena in London on Mar. 28-29. Final matches will take place over two legs in a group-stage format on both PlayStation and Xbox to determine an overall champion.
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The ePL Final will broadcast live on both Sky Sports and Premier League social media channels. Players who perform well in the ePremier League will also earn season-long points towards qualifying for the EA Sports FIFA 19 Global Series Playoffs
“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,” said Todd Sitrin, SVP and GM of the EA Competitive Gaming Division, in the press release. “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.”
The ePL will be organized and hosted by Gfinity. (The U.K.-based esports company’s stock price jumped by more than 15 percent in the afternoon following the ePL announcement.) The EPL following the steps of MLS, who partnered with EA Sports last year to launch an eMLS FIFA 18 tournament. The ePL launch is more significant than that of the eMLS, though, because many EPL teams are major players on the global sports stage.