The FIFA 23 Global Series season is here, and it’s making a rapid getaway out of the blocks just three weeks after FIFA 23 launched. This year’s Global Series kicks off with the first match week of an all new LAN competition, the EA Sports Cup, which embodies EA Sports’ focus on more regular, 2v2 gameplay involving some of the biggest names in FIFA esports.
As well as the EA Sports Cup, there is a new Mid-Season Major which gives rising stars and unknown talents a shot at competing with the best, and we will also see the return of the three end-of-season championships backed by sporting body FIFA (likely for the last time with EA’s long-standing partnership with FIFA finishing come the end of the FIFA 23 cycle).
Compared to last season, the actual schedule looks rather different, what with these new events, but the FIFA 23 Global Series simply looks to build on what it succeeded at in FIFA 22 (2v2 action and elite-tier 1v1 action) while trimming away some of the fat.
“The EA Sports FIFA Global Series continues to harness the love of football to deliver electric and accessible FIFA esports competition around the globe, and this past season was no different,” FIFA esports commissioner, Sam Turkbas, tells The Loadout. “We introduced a new 2v2 format – which set the stage for this year’s EA Sports Cup – and hosted the Team of the Season Cup in London, both of which contributed to strong viewership growth throughout the FGS 22 season.
“We also know that FIFA is rooted in a deep love of 1v1 competition, and as we look toward FGS 23, we will look to continue this momentum and deliver more ways to play and watch FIFA.”
Certainly the biggest shakeup is the aforementioned EA Sports Cup. 20 invited teams from across the globe – including a mixture of major esports teams like Fnatic and Heretics to endemic FIFA esports teams and football clubs like Manchester City and Ajax – are taking part in weekly LAN competition for the next eight weeks.
This sees the next phase in a shift towards both more 2v2 action in the FGS, but also towards a scene more focused on the very top teams and players.
“We want to make it easier for fans to watch their favourite players and clubs on a regular basis, especially in the beginning of our FGS23 season,” says Turkbas. “We believe EA Sports Cup will deliver compelling and engaging competition to our fans and that a regular season schedule will create a frictionless experience for them to tune-in every week to cheer on our EA Sports FIFA stars.”
With many tier-one esports shifting towards franchising, we ask Turkbas whether this is a step in that direction as well for FIFA esports. While his answer doesn’t directly address franchising, he says the EA Sports Cup is more about making things accessible and consistent for fans, and making it invitational means it can get underway very early in the season.
“The EA Sports Cup is designed to deliver a steady cadence of competition featuring a core group of competitors week after week. This will provide a layer of consistency for both players and fans, bringing more top-tier FIFA gameplay and content to the community to deepen engagement and build fanfare. We had already introduced direct invite components for our 2v2 events last year and in order to start the competition closer to launch, we leaned into that element.”
As for the Mid-Season Major, this brings the focus back onto 1v1 action, and will feature both directly invited teams and an open bracket that anyone can enter. However, entry will be secured with paid tickets, something that could present a barrier to entry. Turkbas says that this decision was taken for logistical reasons.
“Ticketing allows us to set a maximum participant count for the open bracket that is key to ensuring an operationally smooth live event,” he explains. “By purchasing a ticket in advance, players can confidently plan around the weekend and book necessary travel while we can accurately account for the number of competitors which will allow us to plan our tournament operations, bracketing, and other event logistics with confidence. While we’d prefer to make entrance free, we know that the current ticketing system in place will create the best experience for competitors and viewers, where only those who are committed to playing in the event will purchase a ticket and attend.”
With several shakeups and a bigger-than-ever push towards high-level competition and 2v2 gameplay, it will be interesting to see how the FIFA 23 Global Series season will play out. Despite the enormous popularity of FIFA games, converting that player base into FIFA Global Series viewers has always been tricky – maybe this is the formula to make it happen.
The full schedule for the EA Sports Cup, and information on the rest of the FIFA 23 season, can be found here.