The English Premier League has joined forces with Electronic Arts to launch the ePremier League (ePL).
The new eSports tournament offers UK-based players the chance to represent their favourite Premier League club for the first time in competitive gaming.
Operated by eSports tournament organiser Gfinity, the ePL will start in January 2019 with the final played in London on March 28th-29th 2019, and broadcast live on Sky Sports and the Premier League's social media channels.
The ePL competitive gaming tournament on EA SPORTS FIFA 19 will see players aged 16 and over compete for three months across three rounds: online qualification, live club playoffs and the eventual live ePL Final.
All 20 Premier League clubs will have a live playoff round allowing two EA SPORTS FIFA 19 competitors, one per platform (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One), the chance to advance to the ePL Final.
"EA SPORTS is a fantastic partner for the Premier League and we are looking forward to launching ePremier League with them," said Premier League managing director Richard Masters. "We know that millions of fans play FIFA and this new eSports competition will provide our clubs with an exciting opportunity to engage with them. We can’t wait to get started with the opening online rounds in January 2019."
Todd Sitrin, senior vice president and general manager of the EA Competitive Gaming Division, said: "The Premier League’s global reach and intensely passionate fanbase pushes EA SPORTS FIFA competition to unprecedented heights as we accelerate esports growth through traditional sports.
"Through the ePL, this partnership carves a critical path forward in expanding competition not only for players, but for the hundreds of millions watching Premier League games who now can support their club on the virtual and the traditional pitch.”
EA SPORTS FIFA Competitive Gaming Commissioner Brent Koning added: "The inclusion of the ePL will undoubtedly enhance the player and spectator experience. Having the most popular football league in the world commit to competitive gaming in this expansive fashion we believe only accelerates the community’s enthusiasm for both FIFA Competitive Gaming and the Premier League."