Major League Soccer is following in the footsteps of the NBA and creating its own eSports league with players from real-life MLS teams. Organized in partnership with EA Sports and FIFA 18, each team will be represented by one gamer who will compete against the other team representatives for an opportunity to play for the eMLS league in the FIFA 18 Global Series Playoff and, ultimately, the FIFA eWorld Cup in 2018.
“We are excited to unveil eMLS,” said Gary Stevenson of MLS in a release announcing the new venture. “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.”
“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,” added Todd Sitrin of EA. “We engage millions of soccer fans daily through FIFA and attract many more who view our competitions around the world.”
Each of the gamers representing the participating MLS teams will compete at the eMLS Cup at PAX East in Boston this April. Each team will use its own process to select their player.
Fans can follow along with their favorite soccer club as they go through the selection process, possibly including local tournaments, to identify and recruit the best talent in their area.
The 19 participating clubs (out of 23) are the Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew SC, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, Minnesota United FC, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City SC, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
It’s unclear whether these players will be paid by their sponsoring team, like they are in the NBA 2K League. An MLS spokesperson told Polygon that teams may elect to have multiple players to represent them, although only one player from each team can compete in eMLS events.
The FIFA eWorld Cup is the culmination of the EA Sports international tournament, and the winner of the eMLS Cup is guaranteed a slot in the Global Series Playoffs in June. MLS also announced that more information on the league structure and individual team player signings will be unveiled in the coming weeks.
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