Text  Larger | Smaller | Default


West Ham’s First eSports Cup was a Huge Success

Filed: Monday, 7th January 2019
By: Staff Writer #3

West Ham’s FIFA 19 eSports Cup has culminated in 20-year-old Fnatic player Damian ‘Damie’ Augustyniak beating Fnatic Roma teammate Conran ‘Rannerz’ Tobin for the final prize of £10,000.

It all went down at the London Stadium, with 16 of the best FIFA 19 players in the UK, each with their own Ultimate Team squads taking part in the competition. But due to FUT servers going down in the middle of the competition, players were instead forced to compete as West Ham in the 85-rated mode, in which every player competes with 85-rated stats and are locked to a maximum of three-star skills.

While the change had to be made to keep the competition going, it certainly suited some players better than others, giving them what some would call an unfair edge. Prior to the event, Danny Taylor from Goal had been very vocal about how all eSports events should be played with zero advantages for each player. The change to 85-rated mode actually helped Taylor bag £3,000 before being eventually eliminated. "To be honest, the limit of three-star skills definitely played into my hands as I've always been quite basic – I'd call it efficient.”

Meanwhile, former West Ham striker Carlton Cole was at the event, and was thoroughly impressed with what he witnessed. "I'm kind of embarrassed to say I didn't know this was going on but it's a massive thing now obviously, West Ham are taking note and we're growing with it. I used to love computers when I was younger, if I could have been paid to play on the computer I would have done that instead of being a footballer!” While Cole is clearly exaggerating, his words do reveal just how massive the world of eSports is becoming in the UK.

This official FIFA 19 eSports League certainly won’t be the last. Premier League Managing Director Richard Masters shared his thoughts on the potential of the industry to Forbes. "We know that millions of fans play FIFA and this new eSports competition will provide our clubs with an exciting opportunity to engage with them. We can’t wait to get started with the opening online rounds in January 2019." Working with EA Sports, the Premier League is set to dominant the eSports market where many football fans now congregate. In particular, West Ham and Manchester City have pro FIFA players in their respective rosters, giving them an even bigger reason to participate in the Premier League’s bid to corner the eSports market. And even for Premier League clubs with no FIFA players on the books, the marketing possibilities are endless to say the least.

In fact, seven out of ten fans reportedly prefer playing the video game versions of football rather doing the real thing. Plusnet in a survey of 1,001 football fans found out that a staggering 72% preferred playing either Pro Evolution Soccer or FIFA on their consoles as opposed to actually kicking the ball around in a field. The reasons that gamers gave, include the fact that they’re better at video games than actual football, and that video games allow them to play as their favourite footballers – which is something that’s agreed upon by 31% of the survey respondents. As University of Florida telecommunications professor Andrew Seleapak explains, “Sports video games allow us to fantasise about being our favourite players, which means we also have the skills of our favourite players and athletes. I can’t play like Messi, but on FIFA, not only can I play like him, I can be him.”

Of course, the UK is not the only place in the world where the globally growing gaming industry is paving the way for eSports. Malaysia’s Ministry of Youth and Sports itself has already revealed plans to build an eSports stadium in the capital of Kuala Lumpur. And it makes sense, as a Youth and Sport Minister pointed out: “[Malaysia] rank 21 among countries with revenue from eSports”. In fact, Expatbets calls Malaysia one of the “most affluent countries in Southeast Asia” and this is reflected in the country’s growing gaming industry. Soon they will have their own stadium to back up their status as a top eSports destination in Asia. Kuala Lumpur will soon join the ranks of Las Vegas, which offers the HyperX Esports Arena, and Seoul, which offers several arenas including the Nexon Arena and the historic Yongsan e-Sports Stadium.

Again, West Ham’s first eSports Cup might be the first in the UK, but it certainly won’t be the last. Apart from similar future events happening in the UK, the gaming world should also strap in for the international eSports tournaments that will take place due to the growing interest in eSports across the world. It’s a great way to boost a country’s economy, and an effective new way of reaching out to the fans of FIFA and the Premier League. Could eSports be the future of sports entertainment? Only time will tell.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

comments powered by Disqus