Having five major events in the span of one month can only mean that the FIFA esports scene might just be ready to break into the upper echelons of the industry very soon.
April has been quite the month for the FIFA esports scene, with the first-ever FIFA eNations Cup and the group stage of the inaugural eChampions League being held. That same period also saw the last FUT Champions Cup event of the season, alongside the eSuperliga and the eDivisie.
The jam-packed month is made more significant not only because of the number of events hosted in it, but also because those same tournaments are being fully supported by the football leagues they are trying to mirror.
FIFA’s opened the month with the FUT Champions Cup tournament, which was held on April 5 to 7 and won by reigning FIFA eWorld Cup champion Mosaad ‘Msdossary’ Aldossary. The Saudi Arabian pro defeated competitors from England and France on his way to his second FUT Champions Cup trophy of the season.
But it was the FIFA eNations Cup, which mirrors the UEFA Nations League, the real highlight of April’s line up of events. The tournament, which took place in London from April 13 to 14, featured 20 different countries vying for the lion’s share of the US$100,000 prize pool and the right to be called the best nation in eFootball.
The tournament is notable for having the participating countries select the players for their respective national teams, much like in real-life international football events.
France, the country that won the last World Cup, was also the first nation to hoist the eNations Cup trophy, after the French duo of Corentin “Maestro” Thuillier and Lucas “DaXe” Cuillerieris defeated their Argentinian counterparts in a thrilling grand finals.
April also saw the field being set for the inaugural eChampions League Finals, to be held from May 31 to June 1 in Madrid, Spain. Mirroring the real-life Champions League, eight of the best FIFA players in the world will compete for the US$280,000 grand prize and crucial points towards qualification for the eWorld Cup later in July.
The heated group stage, held on April 26 to 27, saw representatives from Brazil, Bulgaria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United States advance to the finals in Madrid.
Alongside those global events, lower-tier tournaments such as the eSuperliga and eDivisie, analogues of football leagues in a number of European countries also showcased FIFA’s continued growth at a regional level.
The eSuperliga culminated in a grand finals on April 10, where 2014 eFootball world cup winner and six-time Grand Finalist August Rosenmeier teamed up with Marcus “Marcuzo” Jørgensen, a top-four finisher at the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018, to secure the championship.
Meanwhile, Bryan Hessing took this year’s eDivisie title for Heracles Almelo from the league’s longtime stalwart in Ajax’s Dani “Dani” Hagebeuk.
Aside from the eChampions League final, May will see even more official league qualifying events in the VBL Grand Final, the Virtual La Liga, the eSPL, and the eLigue 1.
Even as sports simulator games like FIFA remain a tier below the more “traditional” esports titles, the sheer amount of competition the game generates is an undeniable sign of a stable, if not thriving, esports scene.