Major League Soccer's esports league, eMLS, is set to return in January 2021 bigger than ever before.
MLS and Electronic Arts announced the competitive schedule and new online format for the 2021 season of eMLS on Wednesday, with the debuts of Inter Miami CF and St. Louis City SC taking the number of participating clubs to 27. The season will feature a $70,000 prize pool and will be headlined by eMLS Cup presented by Coca-Cola on March 20-21. Competition will occur on EA SPORTS FIFA 21 and will be played exclusively on PlayStation 4.
With the health and safety of all participants at the forefront, the entirety of the 2021 competitive eMLS season will be online. Each club will be represented by a professional FIFA player in all eMLS competitions in a quest to be crowned the best FIFA ‘21 player in North America. Some clubs are retaining their FIFA player from last season while other Clubs will be signing new players. The full 2021 eMLS roster will be released on Thursday.
“With an expanded roster of clubs and the return of many of our top competitors, we’re excited to announce our 2021 eMLS season,” said Camilo Durana, Senior Vice President of Properties and Events, Major League Soccer, in a league release. “eMLS has become a successful and important part of our annual calendar, enabling our League and clubs to connect with fans across North America and all over the world, while highlighting our most exciting players. With the continued and enhancing support of our partners and increasingly competitive field, this eMLS season promises to be our best season yet.”
“The popularity of the eMLS continues to grow as this marquee tournament is another example of FIFA’s elevation into a tier-one esport,” said Brent Koning, Group Director & FIFA Competitive Gaming Commissioner. “Our partnership with MLS and the 27 MLS clubs provides another engaging avenue for attracting new fans and partners to the sport through compelling competition.”
2021 eMLS Season Schedule
- Jan. 16-17: League Series One
- Feb. 13-14: League Series Two
- March 16-17: eMLS Last Chance Qualifier
- March 20-21: eMLS Cup
The 2021 eMLS season will be comprised of three live-streamed tournaments that each take place over the course of two-days, doubling the broadcast hours of the 2020 eMLS season. The season will kick off in January with eMLS League Series One presented by Coca-Cola, continue in February with eMLS League Two presented by Coca-Cola and conclude in March with eMLS Cup presented by Coca-Cola.
Ahead of each League Series, all 27 Clubs will play in online qualifier games with the top 8 Clubs in points making it to the respective League Series knockout tournament. After League Series concludes, the top 11 Clubs in total points will automatically qualify for eMLS Cup. The remaining 16 Clubs will compete in a Last Chance Qualifier tournament to battle for the final 12th seed of eMLS Cup. The New York Red Bull’s eMLS competitor, George Adamou, is the reigning eMLS Cup champion from 2020.
Fans can tune in to all three competitions (detailed below) on Twitch.tv/MLS, Twitter.com/MLS and MLSsoccer.com and the free MLS app.
EA SPORTS Global Series
eMLS is an Official League Partner of the EA SPORTSTM Global Series – the global competitive FIFA ecosystem – whereby players can advance from the FIFA 21 Global Series Playoffs to the FIFA eWorld Cup. The Global Series shifted to a completely online format and will be region-based in 2021. eMLS is a Tier 1 League Qualifier for the North America region which enables the top three finishers at eMLS Cup to receive direct seats to the PS4TM Global Series North America Regional Playoffs.
eMLS players finished the FIFA 20 global competitive season in strong form and will look to keep up the momentum for FIFA 21. FC Cincinnati’s eMLS player, FCC Fiddle, and Atlanta United’s eMLS player, Paulo Neto, were champions of the North America and South America EA SPORTSTM FIFA 20 Summer Cups, respectively. With these two trophies, eMLS finished the FIFA 20 season with more regional titles than any other domestic soccer league in the world.