Why does EA FC Struggles in the eSports Scene?

Every year the EA Sports eSports scene is looked down upon for numerous reasons and simply do not compare to other eSports such as Call of Duty, League of Legends, DOTA etc. Why is that?

There could be a number of reasons why FIFA/EAFC has never done exceptionally well as an eSport. From the constant issues in the gameplay to a lack of events throughout the year to sports games simply not being as ‘popular’ in the eSports world. Some may think, how does the virtual representation of the biggest sport in the world not have a higher competitive following?

The biggest question here is; Have EA given up on eSports for EAFC?

The Problem With The New FC Pro Ecosystem

EA recently unveiled their new esports ecosystem for FC 24, which has raised concerns among professional and emerging players due to its limiting format.

The FC Pro ecosystem consists of two main circuits: the FC Pro Open and the FC Pro Leagues, both leading to the FC Pro World Championship. The FC Pro Open is a 1v1 competition highlighting top players from Open Ladders to the World Championships. FC Pro Leagues on the other hand is reserved to EA’s partnered leagues that pick professional players to represent real life clubs on the virtual pitch in national championships like eSerie A or LaLiga FC Pro.

As mentioned above, the major issue with this new program is the limited number of slots for the FC Pro World Championship. Out of 32 spots, 28 are reserved for Pro Leagues winners and only 4 are available for FC Pro Open finalists. To make things worse, during FC Pro Open, EA has invited 16 professional players to participate in various stages of the tournament based on undisclosed criteria. Twelve of them compete in the FC Pro Global Qualifier with 52 regional qualifiers, while four are invited directly to the final phase of the competition.

The new FC Pro ecosystem also prioritizes traditional sports organizations, leading players to represent real-life football clubs rather than conventional esports organizations. This shift has seen prominent players like Tekkz move from Fnatic to Manchester City.

Therefore, unless a pro player is picked by a real life club to compete in FC Pro Leagues or does not progress in FC Pro Open, there isn’t much opportunity for them this season.

Another contentious aspect is the introduction of fast-tracked players in partnered leagues like the ePremier League. These players have an inherent advantage: while top online qualifiers need two victories against a fast-tracked player to advance, the fast-tracked player only needs one win to proceed to the final stage of the competition. This creates a significant imbalance and disadvantages those who excel in online qualifiers.

Pros Are Focusing on Content Creation Instead of Competing

As it currently stands, there are only 2 major tournaments in the entire cycle of the game – FC Pro World Championship and eChampions League. With such few options on the table, some pro players are bound to find other ways to make a living.

The FC Pro World Championship is well under way and a number of pro players have ‘given up’ on their chances of qualifying for the event and have rather diverted their focus onto content creation. An example of this would be the emergence of the Hashtag House which sees Harry Hesketh, Tom Leese, and Alex Shaw banding together and creating content rather than solely focussing on competition which professional players would be expected to do.

Huge_Gorilla, a staple in the FIFA eSports scene, has also increased his content creation and has recently published a website whereby he is offering services to people to help improve their skills.

Although these players are still competing, it’s more in the hope that they can qualify rather than it being their sole purpose. Due to the lack of earning potential through being a professional EA FC player, which has always been an issue with FIFA in the past, pro players are now looking at other avenues in which they can monetise their skills.

EA Limits the Rewards for Community Tournaments

Another downfall to the EAFC eSports community was the banning of the Blacki Cup. The Blacki Cup has been a staple in the community for years and a way for pro players to compete and earn money aside from the minimal tournaments that are organized every year by EA Sports.

The average prize pool on a Blacki Cup tournament is £500 and EA have warned the organizer I_BlacKxLeGenD_ not to exceed $10,000 in prize winnings throughout the entire year. I_BlacKxLeGenD_ has not stopped hosting tournaments and has hosted 9 already and has a big hurdle to get over once he reaches the prize pool limit.

Now the cancellation of Blacki Cups is not the be-all and end-all of the EAFC eSports however it has further highlighted the direction that EA Sports want to take the eSports in and has again caused the community to question EA Sports’ decisions and purpose in making these decisions.

Ex-Pro FIfa Player
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