TNL Take: Welcome to the next round of sports leagues looking to integrate esports.
On Friday, Major League Soccer and EA Sports announced a partnership to form the eMLS, with 19 of the 23 MLS Clubs participating. If this sounds similar to NBA 2K League - it is - in a good way.
MLS now joins other traditional sports leagues like France's eLeague 1 and the Dutch Eredivisie which have both incorporated esports.
The 19 clubs that will participate in the inaugural season of the eMLS include:
Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew SC, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, Minnesota United FC, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Orlando City SC, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Even more interesting is that each eMLS club will only sponsor one Pro to represent the organization. While the announcement was fairly sparse on the operations of the league it leaves some open questions currently which will be taken care of by launch.
What about the other 4 teams?
It's unsure why 4 of the clubs would not participate as this would have provided full participation of MLS teams similar to other national leagues.
How will the Pro's be selected?
While the NBA 2K League has a uniform set of rules on drafting, becoming part of the team, etc., eMLS teams are allowed their own process for selecting their representative. For example, instead of competing in the club's qualifying tournament, a team can sign their own FIFA Pro and field them for eMLS like the New York Red Bulls.
How will the Pro's be paid?
Still TBD but would expect a minimum yearly commitment ala NBA 2K League.
What console will they be playing on?
Still TBD as well.
What's very unique is that all of FIFA 18 esports - whether another national league or a 3rd party event (ESL/Gfnity) - will now feed directly into the FIFA eWorld Cup. This is a fantastic move by EA Sports and the MLS as every competitive aspect funnels into the finals.
This announcement also comes on the heels of MLS's announcement that they were looking for an esports Manager and can imagine this would fall under their purview.
The first eMLS event, the eMLS Cup, will take place during PAX East 2018 in April with the winner earning a guaranteed playoff spot.