Manny Gomez
Manny Gomez
Manny ‘Manstr’ graduated with a degree in game design and development but fell in love with the thrill of esports. Manny has always enjoyed talking about professional League of Legends and FIFA. He has been a published video game journalist in Colombia for two different publications. Twitter: @Manster415

FIFA: The ePL second season and interview with Dan Hilliard

the stage at the Fifa ePL 2018/19 chamionships
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The Premier League is one of the most prestigious football league's in the world. With the rise of esports and games such as FIFA dominating the international sports games market, it's no surprise that the Premier League partnered with FIFA to launch the ePremier League. Giving players a chance to compete and represent their favorite clubs (teams).

The second ePL season starts December 4.  Beginning with the online qualifiers, and followed by the 20 Club playoffs, where two players will make the grade per team (one from each console).

The ePL 2019/20

This year's tournament will be played on EA Sports FIFA 20. Even though the game generates a lot of revenue (28% of EA's yearly earnings), there are a lot of complaints every year. One of the main issues is the lack of prize money in any given tournament; 32 of the 64 players (ones that don't advance from the first stage of a tournament) are awarded $500.

To make it into most events, like the EA FUT Champions cup, you have to qualify through online tournaments. Half of the 64 competitors receive less than what they feel they deserve for qualifying for a tournament. Add that to a lot of issues that affect the game while playing at home, and many have expressed their concerns.

Last year, the ePL tournament had no prize pool. This year they've announced a £40,000 Pound prize pool. The winner will take £20,000. While runner up  will each receive £10,000 and semi finalists will take home £5,000. Many players, however, play the tournament not for the prize pool, but to represent their clubs. Giving it their all for the trophy.

The first ePremier League in 2018/19 received thousands of registrations, attracting top talent from all over the United Kingdom. Top-ranked EA SPORTS FIFA 19 player Donovan ‘Tekkz’ Hunt went on to claim the ePL trophy for Liverpool FC during the hotly contested Grand Final in London. Almost 14-million viewers tuned in to the finals. Which were broadcast live on Sky Sports. As well as the Premier League’s Facebook Watch channel and the EA SPORTS FIFA Twitch channel. Additionally, fans have the opportunity to bet on the games much like football betting online.

an opportunity for pros and fans alike

“Winning the ePL Final for Liverpool FC was one of the most memorable moments of my life,” said Tekkz. “Wearing the shirt of the club I’ve been watching all my life made the win even more special and I have had some amazing experiences since being crowned ePL Champion." He said. "I’m looking forward to playing again this year and hopefully winning back-to-back titles for Liverpool.” This interview shows that representing your club is sometimes enough for pro players and amateurs alike.

This gives an amazing opportunity to people like Dan Hilliard. Dan, 24, is a Brighton native and a lifelong season ticket holder for his home club. He was able to qualify for the final stage and represent his club, Brighton. ESTNN had the chance to talk Dan about the upcoming tournament and his experience representing his club last year.

First of all, thank you for your time, Dan. I wanted to start by asking how did you get involved with the FIFA scene? When did you start playing and have you thought about going pro?

Dan: Not a problem at all. I’ve played football ever since I was able to walk. So that naturally progressed to me playing FIFA since the early 2000s. Personally I don’t have any real aspirations to go pro, but I just love playing a football game, and I’m quite a competitive person anyway.

Some people don't have that sense of team loyalty as you do in football, how do you feel being able to represent Brighton?

Obviously being born, and bred from Brighton I couldn’t ever see myself playing for another team, it’s a real honor.

How did it feel competing in the first-ever ePL? What are some things you learned and are preparing for this year's competition?

Quite a surreal experience going from just playing casually at home, to seeing an advert, to then winning at the Amex. The finals in London were quite spectacular, as they were nothing like I’ve experienced before. You’ve just got to be confident and keep your head, enjoy the journey!

A lot of people, pro players included, often complain about FIFA. Do you feel the complaints are warranted?

In terms of the gameplay aspect, I do believe some complaints are warranted. Everyone wants the best for the game, and certain major flaws do seem to get overlooked year on year. Which is quite upsetting. In terms of the pro scene, I don’t really have any experience of it to have an opinion.

With that in mind, what has been your favorite FIFA, and why?

I liked FIFA 12 from a fun casual aspect as many different cards were useable that wouldn’t be today. That being said FIFA 17 and the first introduction of FUT champions also got me playing and grinding ultimate team a lot more. Although it may need a change-up in the coming years to keep the game fresh.

What about the best FUT cards you have used? And your go-to for FIFA 20?

You can’t go wrong with any of the Team of Years (ToTY) previously, but so far, until we get to that point in the FIFA 20 cycle, Neymar and Messi are my current favourite cards that I can afford!

Any advice you would like to give people that want to improve at FUT and play Rivals or the WL (Weekend League)?

Start recording your gameplay to watch back, odds are you’re conceding a lot of the same goals or making similar mistakes game by game. Tweak formations and tactics and find what suits your play style.

And lastly, would you rather win the ePL or would you rather see Brighton reach the top four?

As much as I’d love to win the ePL, Brighton top 4 would be such a fantastic moment and achievement for the club. It would be nothing short of a miracle though!

The FIFA community has been vocal about changes they want to see to improve the quality of life of this series. Seeing tournaments and leagues partner with the esports scene is always great to see. It adds a seal of authenticity to a game so heavily connected to its traditional sport counterpart. It also allows players that don't want to make the jump to professional play participate in a competitive scene. The ePL will start its online qualifiers on December 4th and will lead up to the finals taking place on March 27th and 28th.

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