July 25 – West Ham are in the second group of six clubs FIFA has announced will compete in the first edition of the Interactive Club World Cup (FICWC) competition in London on August 5. Other clubs announced were VfL Wolfsburg, Olympique Lyonnais, Heracles, Sporting C.P. and PSV Eindhoven.
They join already announced PSG, Schalke, Manchester City, Brondby, Sampdoria and Valencia. In total 19 professional football clubs with esports divisions battle it out (a total of 24 players) for two places at the Grand Final of the FIFA Interactive Club World Cup (FIWC) that will also be played in London, August 16-18.
The players will be split into two divisions: PS4 and Xbox One. Each division will consist of two groups of six players. The top two in each group will progress to the divisional semi-final. The semi-finals and final for each division will be played over two legs. The PlayStation division champion and the Xbox division champion will each receive a qualification seat at the FIWC 2017 Grand Final.
The winner will receive close to $200,000 (£153,000) in prize money and an invitation to The Best FIFA Football Awards.
Professional football clubs have been looking hard at the eSports with Man Cty and West ham in the Premier League leading the way in England in terms of signing professional players to represent the clubs in tournaments.
More clubs are expected to follow suit though only Paris St Germain and Man City of Europe’s giant clubs gave so far entered the arena with professional teams – perhaps indicating their more entrepreneurial approaches to their businesses and fan acquisition strategies against the traditional conservatism of the old guard giants like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Juventus.
The FIFA e-sports game space is relatively small in comparison with other game titles, but the increasing activity of clubs hiring players to their brand, the increase in leagues and competitions, and the prize money on offer looks set to drive rapid growth of the competitive formats of the FIFA game.