LOS ANGELES – Major League Soccer announced today an expanded eMLS, poised to grow the fan connection to MLS through FIFA competition. The competitive infrastructure for eMLS will expand to include the inaugural eMLS League Series presented by PlayStation, with the LA Galaxy to host one of two primary events that will compose the 2019 eMLS League Series.
eMLS League Series One, hosted by the LA Galaxy, will take place in January before eMLS League Series Two with FC Dallas in February. Each of these eMLS League Series events will include participation from all eMLS professional FIFA players and will result in their own distinct prizing opportunities. eMLS player performance across the two eMLS League Series events will determine seeding for the 2019 eMLS Cup presented by PlayStation.
Last year, the LA Galaxy became one of the first MLS teams to participate in eSports when the club signed Giuseppe Guastella as the club’s first-ever eSports athlete. Guastella, a five-time FIFA Interactive World Championship (FIWC) finalist and FIFA Americas champion, is a product of San Pedro, California, and plays under the gamer tag xGGGodfatherx.
The 2019 eMLS season features 22 MLS clubs integrated into the competitive ecosystem, with Atlanta United, D.C. United and FC Cincinnati joining the competition for the first time, as players compete to represent their club at the 2019 eMLS Cup presented by PlayStation® from Sony Interactive Entertainment, having PlayStation®4 as the official console.
“We were thrilled with the success and excitement in year one of eMLS,” said James Ruth, Senior Director of Properties and Events at Major League Soccer. “Working with our core partners, EA SPORTS and PlayStation, we are creating more opportunities for our players to compete and for our fans to engage with eMLS in 2019. eMLS League Series presented by PlayStation and the rest of our 2019 programming will push us closer to our goal of blurring the lines between traditional and digital soccer, while further elevating eMLS in the global FIFA competitive gaming community.”
eMLS is an Official League Partner of the EA SPORTS FIFA 19 Global Series and eMLS players competing in eMLS Cup will receive points for the EA SPORTS Global Series Playoffs. Within the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series, eMLS had six players qualify for the Global Series Playoffs in Amsterdam (behind only the Virtuelle Bundesliga), with Sporting Kansas City’s competitor advancing to the 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup in London.
“eMLS is an accelerant to growing fandom in North America through the increasing connection between virtual and real-world soccer,” said Brent Koning, EA SPORTS FIFA Competitive Gaming Commissioner. “Our partnership with MLS and the 22 eMLS clubs elevates competitive FIFA through the power of sports and esports, and provides an engaging platform to attract new fans, sponsors and partners to the game.”
Atlanta United FC, DC United and FC Cincinnati are three new clubs joining eMLS for 2019, bringing the total club participation count to 22. All 19 clubs that participated in the 2018 season of eMLS are returning: 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.
MLS announced eMLS, its competitive gaming platform, in January 2018. eMLS activates via competitive events linked to the EA SPORTS Global Series Playoffs, crossover events in tandem with MLS Big Events (e.g., MLS All-Star Game and Rivalry Week), and content tailored for the casual FIFA fan. The 2018 eMLS Cup presented by PlayStation was held in April at PAX East, one of the nation’s largest gaming conventions. In August, the eMLS All-Star Challenge presented by Wells Fargo featured a 2 vs. 2 tournament with celebrities like Landon Donovan and Waka Flocka. This event won the inaugural Tempest Award for “Best New Event Stream” at the Esports Business Summit in Las Vegas in October.