The vast majority of Premier League soccer players do their talking on the pitch, going some way in an attempt to justify their hefty price tags and salaries with goals, assists, and all-round contributions on game day. But the field isn’t the only area for battle these days.
The popularity of the FIFA series of games has captured the imagination of pro players, to the extent that clubs are represented in official tournaments. The ePremier League sees clubs compete against one another, represented by professional players.
But it’s not just the professional eSports prodigies enjoying a slice of the action; a huge number of Premier League players have proven themselves excellent players with a controller in their hands, producing the same great touches on the couch as they do on the pitch.
In this article, we’ll examine the growing phenomenon of real-life players testing their skills digitally.
ePremier League invitational
The recent ePremier League Invitational challenged players from across the competition to come together and show-off their abilities. Following a preliminary round, players competed in parallel ‘last 16’ brackets, before being whittled down in knock-out Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals, and a Final.
The tournament was screened in the UK and featured players from across the Premier League, as well as several guest stars, including boxer Tony Bellew, who competed on behalf of Everton, England cricketer Jofra Archer, who represented Manchester United, and actor Michael Ward, who played as Arsenal.
Big names from the Premier League to compete included Tottenham’s Ryan Sessegnon, Liverpool’s Jose Enrique, Norwich’s Max Aarons, and Manchester City’s Phil Foden.
The #ePremierLeague Quarter-Finals are set 🔒
Who wins from here? pic.twitter.com/rDnRBx3bRj
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 7, 2020
The king of FIFA
Leicester’s James Maddison was eventually crowned the winner of the tournament, beating Sheffield United’s John Egan 5-1 in the Final, after overcoming Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson, Crystal Palace’s Max Meyer, Southampton’s Michael Obafemi, and Aston Villa’s Keinan Davis on his way to the last two.
Maddison is recognized as one of the stars of the Premier League, emerging as one of the competition’s set-piece specialists following his move to Leicester from Norwich in 2018. The attacking midfielder became an England international last year and, aged 23, is expected to go on to bigger and better things in the years ahead, as the Foxes seek to be among the favorites for silverware in football betting markets.
And he dedicated his latest triumph, this time off the field, to the Leicester City fans. He said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the whole tournament and am delighted to come out victorious. That was for you, Leicester fans.”
“John’s been fantastic, but there was only one winner.”
The #ePremierLeague Invitiational 2 champion, James Maddison has spoken!
5️⃣-1️⃣ to the Foxes! pic.twitter.com/6DQGLhTRU2
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) May 9, 2020
It’s easy to assume that most soccer players would prefer to do something completely different to unwind while not training or playing, but for many Premier League soccer players, a game of FIFA represents the ultimate form of escapism.
It’s an opportunity to enjoy the game they love, without the pressure of fans, coaches, and sponsors. It’s also a chance to rest up, get off their feet, and enjoy a hobby without the risk of injury.
And with the latest instalment of the game generating around $91m in total revenue last year, it’s likely that more and more younger players will continue to join in with the phenomenon.
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