The Canadian Premier League has partnered with video game publishing giant Electronic Arts to announce the first-ever eCanadian Premier League (or eCPL) league.
The league will see players from all over Canada compete in EA’s ultra-popular football game FIFA 20. FIFA has been a longstanding pillar for EA, helping to galvanize an entire division (EA Sports) dedicated to recreating every major sport in digital form for gamers.
FIFA itself has been around since 1993 with its original release FIFA International Soccer, and has steadily grown in vogue since then, with yearly iterations that update the game to reflect the current state of football, including leagues, teams, and players.
The latest incarnation, FIFA 20, has been enormously popular, amassing more than 10 million total players.
“Partnering with EA for the first all-Canadian eCPL league is another proud moment for us,” CPL commissioner David Clanachan said in a statement. “Reaching the global audience through FIFA gamers and the Esports competition is an incredible opportunity for us and in-line with our mission to develop good young Canadian players and open the doors of opportunities in the world of professional football.”
Competitors for the eCPL will be able to play under the banner of one of the eight CPL teams, including the recently announced Atletico Ottawa. However, because the eCPL is a recent addition to EA Sports’ simulated football universe, the actual CPL teams are not yet playable. Potential competitors will need to pick from the existing clubs in existing leagues.
The players who will represent each CPL team will be decided by two sets of miniature qualification tournaments. Online players will compete in the Online Club Qualifiers and in-person players will compete in the Live City Qualifiers. One victor will come from each qualifier, resulting in two players per CPL team, sixteen in total.
After qualification ends, those sixteen players will compete at the live eCPL Final in Toronto. The champion of the tournament will take home $10,000 CAD, while second and third place finishers will receive $5,000 and $2,000 CAD respectively. The Final will be broadcasted on OneSoccer as well as Twitch, an online streaming platform used predominantly for video games.
The tournament will also act as a means of exposure for talented players who are looking to be sponsored by the very teams that they represent. Further, the best players at the eCPL Final will go on to compete in the EA SPORTS FIFA 20 Global Series, effectively the digital version of the Champion’s League.
“The EA SPORTS FIFA 20 Global Series is the esport for the world’s game,” said Sam Turkbas, FIFA Competitive Gaming Deputy Commissioner, “and we are pleased to bring league competition to Canada, one of our most important markets.”
Registration for the eCPL season opens on February 15th, while the season itself kicks off on February 29th.