MLS 101

In 2022, Charlotte FC will be competing on the field and in the rapidly burgeoning world of eSports. The latest edition of MLS 101 focuses on eMLS, which pits the best eSports athletes in the country against one another

What is eMLS?

eMLS is Major League Soccer’s eSports competition, in which professional eSports athletes compete using the latest iteration of the EA SPORTS™ FIFA video game series. 

Essentially, it is the virtual version of MLS.

Established in 2018, eMLS is the highest-level North American eSports league. eMLS Players represent their respective MLS clubs in competitions across the year: League Series One, League Series Two and eMLS Cup tournaments.

eMLS is an official league qualifier for the FIFA eWorld Cup, the global tournament in which elite eSports athletes from around the world compete.

Is Charlotte FC represented by an eMLS player?

The North Carolina State University graduate, who currently competes under the gamertag kmali_97, 2021, finished 2021 as the 13th best PS4 player in the United States, per EA SPORTS™ FIFA regional leaderboards. He also ranked 27th across all of North America in 2021.

“It’s been a dream of mine to play EA SPORTS™ FIFA at the professional level and I look forward to competing for Charlotte FC in the upcoming eMLS season,” said Ali. “Being able to represent the Carolinas, the place I call home in the United States, is an incredible honor. This is an exciting chance for me to show my skills to a wider audience and I hope to bring as much success as possible home to our amazing fans.”

How many MLS teams have an eMLS player?

In 2021, there were 27 teams represented in eMLS, including St Louis City SC (who will make their MLS debut in 2023). Charlotte FC will be the 28th team in eMLS. In its inaugural season back in 2018, eMLS launched with 19 Clubs.

Will Charlotte FC’s eMLS team feature only Charlotte FC players?

No. Every eMLS player builds their roster using the FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) roster tool. They can select players from any league in the world, but each competitor must select three MLS players in their squad, and two of those players must be on the side whom they represent.

So, when he competes in 2022, Khaled will have at least two Charlotte FC players on his virtual roster.

How is the eMLS season structured?

The season consists of three primary components: League Series One, League Series Two and eMLS Cup.

“Based on previous seasons, each eMLS athlete plays every eMLS athlete once,” says Ali. “Those games are split into two conferences: League Series One and League Series Two. The top eight players from each series will then play each other in a knockout format to determine the champions of each series.

“After that comes eMLS Cup, which is a 12-team knockout tournament. The top 11 players from the combined League Series One and League Series Two standings qualify, and the 12th place is contested in a last-chance qualifier by all players outside the top 11.”

In competition, eMLS players earn points towards the FIFA Global Series, which serve as a means of qualification for the EA SPORTS™ FIFA eWorld Cup. The top 32 players in the world compete at the Grand Final, the last two editions of which were held at London’s O2 Arena.

Which console does eMLS use?

eMLS competitions are played exclusively on PlayStation®5 (PS5).

How popular are eSports?

They are huge—both in terms of participants and spectators. According to the BBC, more than 20 million competitors entered the FIFA eWorld, while eSports streams were watched by 439 million people around the world in 2020.

“The eMLS scene is growing every year,” says Ali. “More FIFA players are pushing themselves to compete at the top level and strengthen their skills each season. For the viewers at home, it’s always a thrill to see the top players compete and showcase their talent at the highest level.”

When does the 2022 eMLS season begin?

Timing for the 2022 season has yet to be confirmed.

How do I watch eMLS?

eMLS matchups and competitions are typically streamed live on the MLS Twitch, Twitter, mlssoccer.com and the MLS app.