The ePremier League Finals return this weekend for its fourth iteration, and with it comes a long-awaited return to live FIFA esports events for UK-based players. As well as the return to the stage, the 40 finalists are also looking forward to a slightly reworked format that puts emphasis on competing as a club, rather than as an individual.
The FIFA 22 ePremier League Finals sees all 20 Premier League clubs field one Xbox and one PlayStation player, and while this has been the case ever since the first ePremier League in 2019, it has always been a solo event. When all was said and done, one player would be crowned the winner after a cross-console final between the top Xbox and top PlayStation player. This year, things are different. While there will still be plenty of 1v1 gameplay, each club’s duo will work as a team, with the scores from the Xbox and PlayStation legs being combined for an aggregate result.
This is a seemingly small but significant shakeup, and one that has definitely won the support of the players The Loadout spoke to ahead of the ePL Finals.
Crystal Palace’s Ethan ‘Ethxn’ Higgins and Jacob ‘Niksneb’ Benskin both anticipate that they’ll “enjoy” the new format and the ability to lean on one another to get results.
“I completely trust in Niksneb to get the results,” Ethxn says, “but even if he does have a bad game I back myself to do well in my game. I think [that will reward] us being a great team and Palace will do well.”
It’s a similar story for Southampton’s duo of three-time ePremier League finalist Michael Fisher and rookie Robbie Wilson. Fisher, who’s also been playing alongside Wilson in other FIFA esports competitions this season, says that despite the gameplay still being 1v1, “communication” and “trust” between the pair during each matchup will be just as vital as their individual skill.
The #ePremierLeague finals will be EPIC! 🍿
🔜 26-27 March pic.twitter.com/JDxFc5X1bY
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 18, 2022
Burnley’s Josh Blunden is already thinking strategically ahead of his first ePremier League finals, and how this new team-based format might play out alongside someone with plenty of ePL experience, Brad Colston.
“Brad is the kind of guy that can play these top pros and go out win by four or five goals,” Blunden says, “whereas myself I’m very defensively solid. So if he can go out and get us a big lead [in the first leg] I’m more than confident to hold out against whoever I’m up against, [preserve] that lead, and get the victory from that.”
For former world champion and FIFA esports veteran Spencer ‘Gorilla’ Ealing, who is representing Spurs in the FIFA 22 ePL Finals, the format shift is also welcome, and he predicts that this might be one step towards a full transition to 2v2 gameplay at some point in the future.
“[This format change] is something I’ve been asking for for a while,” Gorilla says. “I think it’s the clear path forward. For the viewers it’s easier to get behind a team than individual players. For example, if me and [my teammate] Tom Leese go all the way this year, it’s Spurs that won, whereas in previous years it’s just been X player. I could definitely see it continue in that direction with a proper 2v2 format in the future as well, but this is a start.”
Aside from the format change, the ePremier League comes this year with an increased prize pool, and will award qualification spots for the end-of-season FIFA eWorld Cup.
The FIFA 22 ePremier League Finals will take place this weekend, March 26-27. You can watch the action live on any of the Premier League’s social or content channels, on the EA Sports FIFA Twitch channel, or on Sky Sports and Sky Sports’ YouTube channel.