FIFA 19: eChampions League kicks off for pro gamers in Manchester

The world's elite FIFA 19 players get qualifying underway in the inaugural eCL with the final arriving next month in Madrid.

You’ve dominated your own country, but what’s next? Taking over Europe. The Champions League is regarded as the pinnacle of club football, and the tournament is now coming to the FIFA competitive scene in the form of the eChampions League. 

64 of the finest FIFA players in the world are battling it out in Manchester this weekend during the eCL qualifiers. World number 1 Donovan “F2Tekkz” Hunt, world champion Mossad “Rogue Msdossary” Aldossary, eNations champ Corentin “Maestro” Thuillier and eClub World Cup winner Nicolas “nicolas99fc” Villalba will all be on show and looking to gain passage to the eCL finals in Madrid, joining the professional footballers of the Champions League. 

EA Competitive Gaming Commissioner Brent Koning said: “Having acquired the UEFA licenses this year, it has allowed us to use the Champions League for the FIFA 19 Global Series. It gives us the best players from around the world and put them on display.”

“Manchester has a special place in our hearts at EA, it is a natural place to be given we have held FUT Champions Cup here before, as well as being in the backdrop of two of Europe’s football clubs.”

Tune into the eChampions League LIVE

The swiss style group stages will take place on Friday, April 26 with both the round of 32 and round of 16 taking place on Saturday, April 27. The remaining eight players will then head to the Wanda Metropolitano stadium Madrid on May 31, the night before the Champions League, to battle it out for the eCL title. 

The overall winner of the eChampions League will take away $100,000 and also pick up 850 ranking points in the FIFA 19 Global Series. With no more major tournaments until the FIFA Global Series Playoffs in June, the eCL is the last big opportunity for the FIFA pros to reach the playoffs, or book themselves a spot at the season ending FIFA eWorld Cup. 

The added spice of the eChampions League is that the tournament is exclusive to PlayStation 4. With PS4 sponsoring the Champions League season, this gives an upper hand to the likes of nicolas99fc and Maestro who are ranked first and third in the world on the console, respectively. It puts to the question how usual Xbox players F2Tekkz and Msdossary will fare on the opposing console. 

Brent Koning said: “The rivalry of F2Tekkz and Msdosarry has allowed storylines to take shape, just as they do in traditional sport. Our FIFA professionals are representing their nation at these tournaments, and we have the plots of contract disputes and transfer gossip like we do in the real world, like the noise surrounding Chelsea’s Eden Hazard.”

“The FIFA pros have grown up in the social media age, and their activity online is part of the story, just like professional athletes in the modern era.”

Tune in to the eChampions League on April 26-27 by heading to the EA Sports Twitch or YouTube channels. 

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Alastair Pusinelli

I am RealSport's Editor-in-Chief having covered almost everything across the board on the platform. Starting with content on football and the Chinese Super League, I have expanded into esports and gaming, via a stint as rugby editor.

With RS now focused on gaming and working alongside Gfinity, I led the site's coverage on the football titles of FIFA, Football Manager and PES. This has enabled me to cover official esports events such as the FIFA eWorld Cup, FUT Champions Cups and the Gfinity FIFA Series.

Elsewhere, I have been published in The Sunday Times and Variety magazine, as well as working in the offices of Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Hampshire CCC.