While the global eSports market may have generated $655 million in revenue in 2017, it’s interesting to note that FIFA has yet to fully establish itself within the sector.
Last year we saw signs that this trend was reversing as the FIFA eWorld Cup final drew huge viewership figures and packed out London’s iconic O2 Arena between August 2nd and August 4th.
FIFA is certainly one of the most popular console games on the scene; the franchise has sold more than 260 million copies across the globe. Today we’ll look at how this translates into the eSports space, while reviewing the likely format for 2019.
About the game
The FIFA video game is something of an icon in the market, and one that first burst onto the scene in the early 1990s.
Since then, it has paved the way for other football games to follow, through constantly replicating the high-octane pace of the sport and the flagship Premier League.
Last autumn saw the latest iteration hits the shops, with FIFA 19 earning rave reviews despite the fact that one or two new additions have failed to meet the mark. It certainly represents an upgrade on last year’s effort, remaining second to none in terms of accurate player databases, the quality of gameplay and the highly-praised career mode.
This game will also underpin completive FIFA tournaments in 2019, including the summer World Cup and a brand new competition that has recently been revealed by the Premier League.
This will offer a unique opportunity for aspiring eSports stars to make their initial mark in the sector, while also competing directly with professional FIFA teams that are currently active on the global stage.
What’s the format of a professional FIFA tournament?
The new competition has generated huge media coverage and interest, with the direct involvement of the Premier League and all 20 top-flight clubs representing a major turning point.
The official ePremier League (ePL) eSports tournament was unveiled in earnest in October of last year, while the initial, online qualification stage got underway on January 5th.
At present, aspiring players are competing against one another in a knockout cup format, in order to determine the top 16 club playoff finalists on the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One.
Registered players are able to choose whichever Premier League club that they like, and once the top 32 competitors have been identified across both platforms they’ll face off in a half-day tournament to determine the club representative for the PlayStation and the Xbox.
The club playoffs will be hosted between February and March, with each of the 20 EPL sides hosting their relevant matches on variable dates during this period.
At this stage, the successful sides will compete in the final on 28th and 29th March, with London set to host this spectacle. The relevant matches will take place over two legs in a group Stage format for both PlayStation and the Xbox to determine an overall champion for each platform, while the finale will also be broadcast live on Sky Sports and EPL social media channels.
The tournament will not only boost the profile of competitive FIFA gameplay and embolden its attempts to become recognised as a legitimate eSports player, but it will also highlight the simplistic format that’s central to the game’s appeal.
Unlike many eSports games, FIFA naturally allows for competitive gameplay, enabling organisers to set up thrilling cup contest and knockout tournaments that provide value to both players and viewers alike.
FIFA betting and wagering requirements
Despite still being a burgeoning eSport, there’s a considerable appetite for wagering on FIFA and competitive tournaments.
Fortunately, there’s now a growing number of championships and markets in this space, with the ePremier League (ePL) eSports tournament joining similar endeavours such as Austria’s a-League, the eBundesliga, eLigue 1, La Liga eSports and the eDivisie in the Netherlands.
A growing number of major bookmakers are also offering FIFA eSports betting to UK bettors, although the lack of knowledge and infrastructure surrounding competitive FIFA is often not presented until a few weeks before each individual tournament.
With the introduction of new events in 2019, we may also see new betting markets come into play, including leading tournament scorers and best-performing players.
These will provide some depth and choice to knowledgeable bettors, while supplementing existing markets such as head-to-head betting between competitors and backing an outright winner.
To get started, you’ll need to identify which bookmakers offer competitive FIFA betting and ensure that they’re licensed to operate in the UK. From here, you can browse the available markets and determine which ones of the best value, before laying down your wagers and enjoying the action!