Following speculation over MLS’ steps into esports with recent job ads, the organisation has announced that they will be launching eMLS, an esports league in which 19 of the 23 MLS (Major League Soccer) teams will be represented by players in FIFA 18.
At the start of eMLS, the 19 teams represented will be: 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 is unknown why the remaining four teams are not involved from the start.
Each team will organise their own qualifier to select a player “from its own region” to represent the team in the eMLS, after which each player will compete in the eMLS Cup at PAX East in April to compete for their spot in the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series Playoffs and a chance to be crowned champion at the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018 in August.
Gary Stevenson, president and managing director of MLS Business Ventures said: “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.”
An MLS spokesperson later told Polygon that “some teams may choose to have multiple players represent them,” although clubs can send only one player to eMLS events.
The MLS is following in the footsteps of the NBA and NFL, who each have created their own esports leagues in their respective gaming titles. The MLS isn’t the first football league to do this either, with the Eredivisie’s E-divisie in full flow, the French Orange eLigue 1, the Virtual Bundesliga and the competition in Russia in which all top flight teams boast a FIFA pro.
Esports Insider says: As we guessed earlier last week, the MLS is launching its own esports league in FIFA 18. This seems to be becoming the norm for sports leagues in North America, and it will be interesting to see if this transfers over to the UK and worldwide.