Major League Soccer’s esports property eMLS is gaining three new teams for 2020: LAFC, Nashville SC and Austin FC, bringing the total number of entrants to 25.
Notably, expansion team Austin FC is joining eMLS a year before the club begins actual play in MLS in 2021. Inter Miami CF will be the only MLS team without an eMLS affiliate next year.
EMLS, which is played on PlayStation 4, is an Official League Partner of the EA Sports Fifa 19 Global Series.
In 2019, the league debuted the inaugural eMLS League Series, comprised of two events which determine the seeding for the eMLS Cup. The eMLS League Series events were held in Los Angeles and Dallas, in partnership with the LA Galaxy and FC Dallas respectively. Venue changes are expected next year.
“We’re in the process right now of looking where are going to take events,” James Ruth, MLS senior director, properties, told SportBusiness in June. “The League Series, that whole platform, is built on taking different events to different markets and partnering with the clubs.
“So you’ll definitely see events different than LA and Dallas which is where we were [this year]. We’re in the process of working through that with the clubs and we have a shortlist of clubs that we’re looking at.”
LAFC, Nashville SC, and Austin FC will launch their own local competitions to determine their eMLS participants.
Inter Miami, meanwhile, is looking to enter eMLS in 2021. “It’s a fantastic platform but we need to get the Club, two stadiums, a training facility and a USL League One team up and running first. We want to enter eMLS with the right focus and attention it deserves,” a spokesperson says.