Major League Soccer (MLS) has become the latest sports property to announce plans for a branded competitive gaming competition.
The USA’s top soccer division is teaming up with leading video game publisher and long-time league partner EA Sports to create eMLS, a new league based upon the latest edition of EA’s hugely popular Fifa series.
Held in April, the eMLS Cup will take place during PAX East, the gaming culture festival, at Boston’s Convention and Exhibition Center. That event will serve as a qualifying round to determine which players advance to the EA Sports Fifa 18 Global Series Playoffs, prior to the Fifa eWorld Cup in August.
“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 millions of Fifa players around the world,” said Gary Stevenson, the president and managing director of MLS Business Ventures.
It is understood that 19 of the 23 current MLS clubs have agreed to participate in the forthcoming tournament. The four who haven’t are Atlanta United, DC United, Real Salt Lake and league newcomers LAFC.
Participating MLS teams will each be able to recruit players from the US and Canada to represent them in the eMLS Cup. Some teams have already signed esports players, including New York City FC, who currently have two on their books.
An MLS statement said further details regarding the league’s structure and team player signings will be revealed in the coming weeks.
News of the creation of the eMLS Cup follows last year’s announcements of the NBA 2K League, which begins this coming May, and the Madden NFL Club Championship, which the National Football League (NFL) is launching early this year, also in conjunction with EA.
It also ties into EA's broader plans for its Fifa 18 Global Series, a multi-tiered worldwide competition run in tandem with the company's official league partners. Details on that competition were released in October, and can be found here.