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Dating back to the video games of the 70s, eSports have come a long way, from Pac-Man to a multi-million-dollar industry, and from maybe winning paltry arcade tokens to FIFA 17 and up to a million-dollar purse at the massive eSports tournaments. Now you can watch the action on TV on the BBC or ESPN, along with 36 million other people to see the League of Legends championship finals. And the ever-popular live streaming site FIFA.com will be showing their prominent FIFA 17 showdowns, boots and all.
Whilst other games may come and go, the FIFA series is one of the mainstays. A cornerstone of the eSports scenario, it has been around since 1993, with its popularity surging year on year. In 2015, for instance, FIFA 16 was the best-selling console game in the UK. Of any genre. Worldwide, close to 7-million copies were sold for PS4, beaten only by Call of Duty: Black Ops III. And it’s not only popular in football’s traditional countries, this global phenomenon of this series is viewed by some as the reason for the rise of soccer popularity in the US.
As with all other major brands, there is a show-stopping annual tournament, the FIFA Interactive World Cup. The FIWC is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest online gaming tournament in the world, boasting over 2 million registered players, and a $20,000 winner’s purse. With fans tuning in by whatever means necessary, FIFA.com streams the final matches live.
But how do you get into this talented circle? If you’re an awesome FIFA 17 player, then the way has been paved by the FIFA Ultimate Team Champions to enable you to reach your true potential. This weekend league with in-game rewards just waiting to be won could earn you a place at the FIFA 17 Ultimate Team Championship Series. And from there you would win part of the $1.3 million allocated to the players during the season, and well on your way to being a Pro. You wanna bet on Fifa 17 ? Try Betfred.
But not only the players and the broadcasters are profiting. Now major football clubs are signing up players and teams to play on these massive stages. They’re all at it, Manchester City, Sporting Lisbon, and West Ham have signed up with some of the best FIFA players. 24-year old Sean ‘Dragonn” Allen has signed for West Ham, after being runner-up in the FIFA Interactive World Cup.
Schalke, a German club, and Besiktas, from Turkey both have successful League of Legends teams. It’s like an epidemic. Could it be that one day there may even be an interactive FIFA Premier League? Definitely looks possible.
Danish Mohamad Al-Bacha, the reigning FIWC 16 champ, has already tested out FIFA 17. He was beaten by Sean Allen at the London Eye but narrowly won against Benedikt Saltzer 1-0 at the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich.
All the participating clubs will compete for a place at the FICWC Grand Final in London. Live streaming of the event will display the talents of virtual players from all over the world competing for the first prize of $200,00 and a trip to the Best FIFA Football Awards, with the runner-up pocketing $100,000.
Named The Road to London, the format has been tweaked to adapt the tournament to meet the needs of the huge community of viewers and players. Advancing to the live qualifications will put players in the spotlight, showcasing their skills.
With initial qualifications taking place online, players who have won enough points will be invited to a number of live qualification competitions, including the FIWC regionals and the Ultimate Championship Series. The winners will secure their tickets to the prestigious FIWC 17 Grand Final, and the 32 finalists will compete with their National Teams, with each of the individuals rated 85.
The new FIFA 17 features three new stadiums. West Ham’s new home, the London stadium, the Riverside Stadium and the Suita City Football Stadium, home of Gamba Osaka. With 50 out of the total of 70 stadiums being fully licenced, players can pick and choose where they would like to play; Juventus, Santiago Bernabeu, Allianz Arena – plus all of the Premier Leagues grounds.
So, for those who still think that video games, or eSports, are nerdy pastimes for nerdy boys, it’s time to catch a wake-up. This industry is now enormous and valued at billions of dollars. The trend, which started in Asia, has spread worldwide and those in the know are watching these phenomenal tournaments online in the comfort of their own armchair. And these competitions are held in massive packed-out stadiums, which include Madison Square Gardens in New York City.