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20 million to one – the FIFA eWorld Cup

Traditionally during the British summer months, sports other than football get to dominate the headlines through the game’s summer break.

Despite recent events in Russia lengthening last year’s football season, this weekend saw a number of non-football related events take the sporting headlines:

One other major event, however, was football related, as Saudi Arabia’s Mosaad ‘Msdossary’ Aldossary, was crowned winner of the 2018 Fifa eWorld Cup in London, securing himself a $250,000 prize as a result.

The rise of gaming and eSports has been covered in some detail on this blog. Yesterday’ event was yet further evidence of its exponential growth.

How many tournaments can claim a winner narrowed down from over 20 million entrants? This is how many entered this year’s tournament in November last year with Aldossary claiming victory at the Grand Final at the O2 in front of a crowd of hundreds.

That eSports is here to stay can be seen from the levels of participation and buy-in the event has received from key stakeholders including FIFA itself. Whilst a gaming World Cup of football has been in existence since 2004 it is only recently that FIFA and EA Sports, the game’s developers, have worked together.

As a result, there has been a significant increase in entrants, fan engagement and sports administration.

The high level of entrants can be attributed to the ease at which it is possible to compete. All one needs is access to a gaming account and you are away – the significantly increased prize money at stake adding yet further incentive. Coupled to this is the ease at which competitions can be watched with recent events revealing viewer figures of up to 160,000 concurrent online views.

In terms of sports administration, this year’s event saw the introduction of anti-doping controls for players in accordance with the WADA Code and FIFA’s Integrity Department monitoring pre-match and live betting markets across the globe.

Premier League football clubs have already seen the value in embracing eSports with Manchester City and West Ham both employing eSports players on a full-time basis although not always purely for football-related games.

This rise in popularity and recent announcements that it will become a medal sport at multi-sports events, such as the 2022 Asian Games, will only lead to yet further calls for eSports to be considered as an Olympic Sport.

Therein will lie its greatest battle.

© Copyright 2020 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 218
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