Major League Soccer (MLS) is entering the world of esports in a big way, introducing a new FIFA 18 league in partnership with EA Sports.
FIFA’s popularity as an esport is growing on a daily basis and big name football clubs are beginning to sit up and take notice of the new market.
Teams like Manchester City, West Ham, and Bayer 04 Leverkusen have recently brought FIFA players into their teams to represent them in esports.
The FIFA esports circuit is also beginning to expand, with tournament organizers like Gfinity doubling down on the game as a competitive title.
On January 12th the MLS and EA Sports announced that they were partnering up in order to create the eMLS, a new competitive FIFA 18 league which will include the best FIFA players in North America.
— EA SPORTS FIFA (@EASPORTSFIFA) January 12, 2018
The inaugural eMLS Cup is set to take place in April 2018 at PAX East in Boston. It will also serve as the qualifier for the Canadian and US representatives for the EA Sports FIFA 18 Global Series Playoffs.
This will all feed into the 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup which will take place in August and feature the best players from all around the world.
Commenting on the announcement, MLS Business Ventures President and Managing Director, Gary Stevenson had this to say:
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.
More details on the eMLS are expected in the coming weeks. Participating teams will be recruiting players through various avenues like local competitions.
The news is yet more proof of esport becoming a mainstream attraction.