Following the reveal of the new FC Pro esports ecosystem, EA Sports came under heavy criticism as it basically forces some organizations and players out of the competition.
The new format limits the participation of several esports teams and players, with some even announcing to step back from future EA SPORTS FC Pro related events.
FC Pro Ecosystem
EA SPORTS FC Pro comprises two competition circuits: FC Pro Open and FC Pro Leagues, culminating in the FC Pro World Championship. Starting October 1, the FC Pro Open Ladder kicks off across 10 regions, leading to regional and global qualifiers. The FC Pro Open championship will feature a total of 20 players and will begin in late November and end in late January 2024. There will be a $1,000,000 prize pool across all FC Pro Open competitions up for grabs.
From February to May 2024, the FC Pro Leagues will operate, partnering with major football leagues and clubs. The ecosystem will culminate in the FC Pro World Championship in June 2024, with 32 players competing for the championship title.
The Issues With The New Ecosystem
EA confirmed that all FC Pro matches will be played exclusively on PS5, leaving Xbox players out of any competitive games. This is not a surprise, as EA has a solid partnership with Sony for quite a few years now.
The organizers also confirmed that FC Pro will give priority to traditional sports organizations, where players will represent real life football clubs instead of traditional esports orgs.
This announcement made some esports organizations reduce their presence in EA’s new competitive ecosystem. Fnatic, one of the largest esports organizations in the world, confirmed that they will be stepping back for a period of time until they “assess opportunities in the coming months” while thanking their star player Tekkz for representing the brand for the past 4 years.
After almost 4 years competing in FIFA, we've made the temporary decision to a step back while we assess opportunities in the coming months.
— FNATIC (@FNATIC) September 25, 2023
Other esports organizations such as Excel Esports had to say goodbye to their franchise player Tom Leese that made history two years ago as the first paid FIFA esports transfer following his move from Hashtag United eSports. The London-based organization will focus instead on content creation and recently announced the signing of British FIFA content sensation Danny Aarons who joins Spencer “Gorilla” Ealing for the new EA SPORTS FC season.
Another issue with the new format is the number of spots available at the FC Pro World Championship. The final tournament will feature 32 players, 28 qualified from the Pro Leagues around the world and only 4 from the FC Pro Open. One of the things we need to highlight is that during the FC Pro Open tournament, EA invited no less than 16 pro players to participate in various stages of the competition.
12 of them will compete directly in the FC Pro Global Qualifier joining other 52 players who made it through the Regional Qualifiers while another 4 pro players got invited to participate in the final phase. As previously mentioned, the FC Pro Open will feature 20 players, of which only 4 will make it to the FC Pro World Championship.
The new competitive format makes it almost impossible for new talents to rise and compete. Some users argue that EA should have not invited players in the first place, as this is an “open” tournament.
FIFA/EA FC Head Coach for Finland, Jeppe Højfeldt stated that: “You have next to no chance of qualifying for the World Championship unless you’re a part of a club. And with the huge desperation from the players and only a limited amount of clubs available, it’s going to be a mess.”
He continued: “They forced the organizations out. It just isn’t worth it for the organizations anymore. And let’s not forget that the organizations in most cases have been the ones paying the player wages.”
Currently, there are more free agents on the FIFA/FC esports market than even before, as many were let go by their organizations.
Established pro players such as Paulo Neto even argued the basis of the invite criteria after winning the eNations Cup and eMLS last season, but didn’t make the invite list:
Just can’t understand the criteria.
Fifa 2023 Achievements?
eNations Cup 🏆 / eMls 🏆🏆
Only 3/3 eWorldCup qualifications… 😀
What should I do to get an invite ?
Change nationality? https://t.co/2Rys1GzLsT
— Paulo Neto (@Pauloneto999) September 25, 2023
Some even commented that certain players compete “because they have the right connections in the teams” and that there is “zero meritocracy” in the new system:
The situation is really embarrassing. This system excludes many people who have made sacrifices and investments. Moreover, it allows people without merit to compete only because they have the right connections in the teams. Many valuable players will be left out. Zero meritocracy
— Fedele Management (@fedele_esports) September 25, 2023
To join the FC Pro Open, you can register here. However, there have been multiple reports of user failing to register due to errors on the new FC Pro platform.