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The Premier League and EA SPORTS launch the 2020/21 ePremier League

George Miller

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The Premier League and EA SPORTS launch the 2020/21 ePremier League
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The Premier League and Electronic Arts are launching the third season of ePremier League. The EA SPORTS™ FIFA 21 Global Series competition gives UK-based players the chance to win the ePremier League title for their favourite club.

Registration for this year’s competition opens at 5pm GMT on Thursday 3 December at e.premierleague.com, with online qualification beginning in January. Representatives for all 20 clubs will compete to see who reaches the online playoffs, before the live finals take place next spring (dates TBC). The finals will once again be broadcast live on Sky Sports, Premier League channels and EA SPORTS FIFA Twitch channel. Over the last two seasons, the finals reached more than 22 million fans.

Premier League Commercial Director Will Brass said: “The EA SPORTS FIFA video game series is one of the key channels through which fans all over the world can engage with Premier League clubs and players. We are looking forward to another edition of ePremier League after the first two seasons delivered some thrilling entertainment while giving UK-based fans the chance to represent their teams in high-profile competition.

“ePremier League is a great platform for players of all abilities and a real mix of competitors have progressed to the final stages of both tournaments so far. This includes some of the highest-ranked professional FIFA-gamers in the world and relatively inexperienced players who have proved they can take on the very best.

“We have been able to deliver the live finals to a wide audience in the UK and around the world, thanks to EA Sports and our broadcast partners, and we hope fans enjoy watching and having the chance to participate in another exciting season of ePL action.”

The 2020/21 instalment of ePL was won by Watford FC’s Thomas ‘Hashtag Tom’ Leese after the inaugural ePL tournament was won by World No1 Xbox One player Donovan ‘Fnatic Tekkz’ Hunt on behalf of Liverpool FC.

Hashtag Tom said: “It meant a lot for me to be crowned the 2019/20 ePremier League champion as it is one of the most prestigious tournaments on the professional FIFA circuit and it was the first major trophy of my career.

“I can’t explain the number of times I had walked away from a tournament in FIFA 19 and 20 and felt like I should have won, so to win ePL after a lot of tough losses felt extra satisfying.

“I would recommend the competition to FIFA players as ePL is a massive tournament with a lot of people watching. It also gives you the unique chance to try and represent your favourite Premier League team. And if you’re looking to break into professional FIFA then this is the perfect opportunity for UK gamers to showcase their talent.”

The competition is open to UK residents aged 16 and over and will once again take place on PlayStation®4 and Xbox One. The winner will take home the trophy and a share of the £40,000 prize pot, and there will also be seats on offer for top-ranking players at the EA SPORTS™ FIFA 21 Global Series (FGS) European Playoffs. You can find more information about the EA SPORTS™ FIFA 21 Global Series (FGS) rules here.

FIFA Deputy Commissioner Sam Turkbas said: “EA SPORTS FIFA esports popularity has the strongest momentum of all time and a key accelerator in its growth is through the power of its accessibility and authenticity. ePremier League gives competitors the opportunity to fulfil their dreams by representing one of their favourite clubs on the virtual pitch.”

During this season’s online qualifiers, all players will be required to play in 90-rated Online Friendlies mode as their chosen Premier League club. Those who progress to the playoffs and beyond will play on FIFA Ultimate Team™ (using Premier League players only).

ePremier League evolved during the 2019/20 season, with the introduction of the ePL Invitational tournament while football was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. This saw first-team players and other famous faces compete on behalf of all 20 Premier League clubs in an online EA SPORTS FIFA 20 tournament. Two instalments of the competition were broadcast across five continents as then-Wolverhampton Wanderers player Diogo Jota and Leicester City’s James Maddison were crowned champions.

Highlights from the first two ePL seasons are available here.

ePremier League is operated by esports tournament organisers Gfinity. For more information visit e.premierleague.com.

 

ePremier League 2020/21 key dates

Thursday 3 December – Friday 15 January:                 Registration open

Monday 4 – Sunday 31 January:                                  Online qualification

Monday 15 February – Wednesday 3 March:               Club Playoffs

March/April                                                                  Live Finals (final dates TBC)

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EXCEL ESPORTS unveils partnership with iconic lollipop brand Chupa Chups

George Miller

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EXCEL ESPORTS unveils partnership with iconic lollipop brand Chupa Chups
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The exciting partnership sees Chupa Chups become the Official Candy Partner for EXCEL ESPORTS’ League of Legends teams and will see the partners work together on an exclusive, fun content series

British competitive gaming culture brand EXCEL ESPORTS has today announced a partnership Chupa Chups, a Spanish confectionery brand which is owned by major confectionery manufacturer Perfetti van Melle. The partnership will see Chupa Chups become the Official Candy Partner for EXCEL’s full League of Legends roster which competes across both the League of Legends European Championship and the Northern League of Legends Championship. The partnership will help align EXCEL’s new Power of Better identity with Chupa Chups’ Forever Fun belief, that encourages everyone to keep their childish spark alive throughout their life.

As part of the partnership, EXCEL and Chupa Chups will work closely together on a fun content series called Sweet or Yeet, which will involve EXCEL’s League of Legends players being asked quickfire questions and either being rewarded with a sweet treat for answering correctly, or being asked to eat something gross if they get the answer wrong. Both parties will also collaborate on social media posts together, including celebrations and League of Legend happy birthday assets. The Chupa Chups logo will also be featured on both the LEC and BTXL players jerseys which are due to be released in the coming weeks.

“We are very excited to partner with such a globally recognised brand in Chupa Chups, a business we naturally align well with given the fun and youthful nature of both our organisations, industries and audiences. It’s always fantastic to work with non-endemic brands that appreciate the culture of our industry and we’ll work with Chupa Chups to create engaging, fun content that works for both our audiences. At EXCEL ESPORTS we are always striving to be better and we are excited to kick off 2021 with a partnership which helps further build on our vision,” said Robin McCammon, Chief Commercial Officer, EXCEL.

“We are thrilled to have found a partner in EXCEL ESPORTS, an organisation that shares many of the same values and audience, with both youth and fun in our core identities. The partnership was long-awaited given the numerous times our consumers have said that lollipops are the favourite sweet to enjoy while playing. We are excited and looking forward to working closely with EXCEL ESPORTS by making fun and engaging content that our audience will surely love,” said Eva Karkoni, International Brand Manager at Chupa Chups.

EXCEL’s LEC team will officially begin its League of Legends European Championship campaign on Friday, January 22nd, while the BTXL team will kick off it’s Northern League of Legends Championships season on Tuesday, January 19th. Both rosters welcome new coveted talent as EXCEL aspires to have its most successful year to date.

2020 was a landmark season for EXCEL as its LEC team received its best results yet, narrowly missing out on a playoffs spot, while also undergoing a brand update and unveiling footballer Dele Alli as it’s new global ambassador. On Sunday, January 10th, a brand new BBC documentary, Fight for First: EXCEL ESPORTS will be available to stream on BBC IPlayer. Voiced by Golden Globe and BAFTA nominee Cillian Murphy, the five-part series follows the team as they experience the highs and lows of competing in Europe’s biggest esports league.

 

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LEC Extends Partnership with Warner Music Central Europe

Niji Narayan

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LEC Extends Partnership with Warner Music Central Europe
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Warner Music Central Europe has once again become the official music partner of the League of Legends European Championship (LEC). This marks the third year of partnership between Warner Music and LEC.

Throughout the year, Warner Music Central Europe will continue to provide the Song of the Week in the live LEC broadcasts. Previous featured artists include Diplo, Robin Schulz and Trivium, to name a few. Warner will also power up our additional LEC content by soundtracking hype videos for the league and support the European Masters competition with some brilliant tracks from its extensive catalogue.

“Music and gaming are firmly linked,” explains Oliver Thienhaus, Director Paid & Owned Media, Warner Music Central Europe.

“Through our partnership with Riot Games, we can leverage this connection to create exciting synergies and provide even more music fans with the right music at the right moment,” he says.

“We’re very much looking forward to working on many exciting projects together in 2021.”

“It’s incredible to see the milestones that we have achieved with Warner Music Central Europe since the beginning of our collaboration,” says Alban Dechelotte, Head of Sponsorships & New Business EU Esports at Riot Games.

“From powering up the LEC broadcast with the Song of the Week segment in 2019 to live streaming and live performances from artists at the LEC Finals in 2020, we can’t wait to see where our partnership will take us in 2021.”

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F1 Esports Series 2020 breaks viewing records and Virtual Grands Prix return to kick-start 2021

George Miller

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F1 Esports Series 2020 breaks viewing records and Virtual Grands Prix return to kick-start 2021
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The F1 Esports Series 2020 rounded off a huge year for Formula 1 and its virtual racing offering, as a record number of fans tuned into the action, achieving a total of 11.4m live stream views across all digital platforms, representing a 98% increase on 2019. View the F1 Esports Series 2020 overview here, which you are free to embed in editorial.

Alfa Romeo’s Jarno Opmeer secured his first F1 Esports title in December’s Grand Final event, as both the drivers’ championship and teams’ championship, won by Red Bull for the second successive year, came down to the final race of the campaign. The Grand Final alone achieved 2.7m digital views, setting a new record for a Pro Series event, previously attained in Event 1 of the 2020 season.

The nail-biting Grand Final also reached a staggering 1.7m social media engagements, an all-time record for any F1 Esports Series event, culminating what had already been a hugely successful campaign regarding social media interaction, as the Pro Series achieved 291m total social media impressions, a 151% increase on the 2019 season. Additionally, the series recorded 23.8m video views, up 29% on 2019, which was aided by increased social media output for last year’s campaign.

Following the popularity of the previous Pro Series’ and last year’s Virtual Grands Prix, more people than ever before attempted to qualify for the 2020 season, as participation increased 117% to 237k.

Looking forward to 2021, F1 Esports aims to build upon the success of 2020, and is kickstarting the new year with the return of the Virtual Grands Prix, this time for a three-race competition with a charity prize fund up for grabs for the teams.

Over 30m people tuned into the Virtual Grand Prix series last year to see F1 stars, sporting icons and music chart toppers represent the ten F1 teams in eight live events that replaced the official calendar, as F1 Esports continued to bring fans competitive action when the real-life racing stopped due to the pandemic.

The Virtual Grands Prix will return on Sunday 31 January for three events on consecutive weekends, where the ten teams will battle it out for a charity prize fund, represented by a combination of F1 drivers past and present, celebrities and F1 Esports Series gamers. The format has been altered since last year’s events, as the pro gamers will now take part in a five-lap Sprint Race to determine the grid order for the Feature Race, where the teams’ duos, made up of the participating famous faces, will then compete at 50% race distance to secure points for the overall standings. The team championship standings will be tracked across the events and will determine how the prize fund is then distributed to their nominated charities.

Whilst the return of the Virtual Grand Prix Series will be F1 Esports’ flagship event for the start of 2021, it is just one of many virtual competitions taking part. The F1 Esports Series China Championship will crown its second winner in next week’s Grand Final in Shanghai after an entertaining campaign, while the inaugural F1 Mobile Racing Esports champion was recognised earlier this month, as Matteo Pagliani came out on top from over 60,000 elite qualifiers. The Challenger Series also continues for a further eight rounds across PS4, Xbox and PC platforms until April, before the F1 Esports Series Pro Championship returns in the autumn.

Julian Tan, Head of Digital Business Initiatives & Esports at Formula 1 said:

“It is fantastic to see the F1 Esports Series 2020 break viewing and engagement records after a brilliant championship where we saw competitive racing and high drama at every event. We had to adapt in the way we operated for this year’s Pro Series due to the pandemic, but we’re thrilled to see that it didn’t affect viewers enjoyment, or consumption, of the action. 2020 was a tough year for everyone, but we look forward to bringing fans more excitement in 2021, starting with the return of the Virtual Grands Prix as we welcome back some of the faces that made it such a special experience last year, and invite some new ones too, all in the name of charity. Watch this space!”

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