FIFA announced on Tuesday the dates of its first ever FIFA eClub World Cup, tweaking a format used from their successful inaugural club eSports tournament, the 2017 FIFA Interactive World Club Cup (FIWC) last year in London.
All existing eSports organizations with dedicated EA Sports FIFA players are allowed to partake in the online qualification process, regardless of where they are located in the world, after completion of an application. The regional qualification matches will take place online from April 20th to April 22nd, with 14 teams advancing to the FIFA eClub World Cup. Joining them will be the host club, and 2017 FIWC Champions Brøndby IF eSport, from the Danish Superliga.
These 16 teams will compete for four qualification spots, two for Xbox and two for PlayStation, for the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018 Grand Final. The winners of the qualification process will be announced April 24th, with the 16 team live tournament aspect and finals taking place on May 19th and May 20th.
Each eSports team must send two players, one for Xbox and one for PlayStation. Teams are forbidden from switching players at any point in the tournament. Each match will be played in a team versus team format, with the two Xbox players and the two PlayStation players facing off in the FIFA 18 Ultimate Team Friendly Season mode. Scores will be counted as aggregate for the two systems to determine the victor.
FIFA has not yet announced the host club and city, or the monetary amount in the prize pool. Although in 2017, FIWC Champions Brøndby IF eSport took home $10,000 USD, runner-up Olympique Lyonnais eSports brought in $5,000 USD, and both NYCFC and Schalke04 eSports received $2,500 for their semifinal finishes.
FIFA is not the only soccer entity to recently make a play into the industry forecasted to exceed $1 billion in revenue by 2019. Spain’s LaLiga, Japan’s J.LEAGUE, and Australia’ A-League have all announced moves into the eSports space. Just last weekend, Kid M3Mito and the Houston Dynamo won the inaugural eMLS Cup presented by PlayStation, defeating LyesMTL from the Montreal Impact 6-4 in the final.
Lastly, the eClub World Cup will be ripe for sponsorship as this event will be suspected to attract a large number of viewers across all demographic lines. For instance, at the time of writing, events like the FIFA Ultimate Team Champions Cup is currently sitting about 44,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch alone. This does not take into account all of the in-market, experiential opportunities there may be for brands to market their product offering. It goes without saying, eSports are the next frontier for sport sponsorship opportunities and that the 2018 FIFA eClub World Cup might just be the next best chance for brand marketers.