'FIFA' eSports league eMLS expands to 22 teams

Atlanta United, D.C. United and FC Cincinnati are all getting in on the action.

eMLS, the FIFA eSports league of Major League Soccer, is getting ready to expand. Following a successful inaugural season earlier this year, the league run in parternship with EA Sports will head into 2019 with three new squads. Atlanta United, D.C. United and FC Cincinnati will all have eSports clubs appearing in the next season. They will compete for the eMLS cup and will join in the new eMLS League Series events.

The expansion means 22 of the 24 MLS teams that will take to the real-life pitch in 2019 will also be represented in the eSports league. FC Cincinnati will make its debut both the real MLS and the virtual competition next year. The only clubs without an eSports equivalent representing them are Los Angeles FC and Real Salt Lake. Each team selects a single gamer in a draft that will represent them in competition.

The primary challenge for the selected gamers is the eMLS Cup, which was played earlier this year at PAX East and broadcast on Twitch. The winner of the competition represents the MLS at the FIFA eWorld Cup, a 32-person tournament made up of winners from other FIFA events and top players from online competitions.

For the 2019 season, eMLS will add a new competition called League Series. There will be two League Series events taking place during the 2019 season: Series One hosted by the LA Galaxy in January and Series Two hosted by FC Dallas in February. All players from the 22 eMLS teams will participate with a chance to win distinct prizes at each event. The League Series will also determine seeding for the 2019 eMLS Cup.

EA Sports and eMLS have yet to announce when the eMLS Cup will take place. The 2019 FIFA eWorld Cup is set to take place in July or August 2019.