MFL’s ePiala Malaysia 2019 merges physical and virtual football in inaugural tournament
Sports and esports meets in a unique fashion this year, thanks to the Malaysian Football League (MFL)’s inaugural ePiala 2019 tournament. Conducted in partnership with gaming space/esports centre Gamesbond, ePiala sees a concurrent esports tournament held alongside the Piala Malaysia 2019 national football tournament.
Essentially, each football team in the nation will have an esports representative taking on other competitors on the FIFA20 game, played on the Sony PlayStation 4. Eight of the selected ePiala competitors are the top Malaysian esports players on the FIFA Global Leaderboard, and have also represented Malaysia in international esports tournaments.
The esports competitors are drawn to represent the eight quarter-finalist teams in Piala Malaysia 2019, namely Johor Darul Ta’zim, Kedah, Melaka, Pahang, Perak, PKNP FC, Selangor and Terengganu FC.
ePiala Malaysia will be held beginning 26 September for the quarter-final stage, with the semi-final matches held on 17 October 2019 and the finals on 2 November 2019. The esports competitors will play using a home-away format (5 minutes per half) for the quarter-final and semi-final rounds, while the final round will be played with one 6-minute half match.
ePiala Malaysia 2019’s final match will be played right before the real-life finals at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium. The champion will be awarded a US$1,192 (RM5,000) prize money and trophy – plus the chance to lieft the ePiala trophy at the Piala Malaysia 2019 finals.
“Looking at the popularity of esports in Southeast Asia, with more than 9.5 million enthusiasts, we are looking to esports as a platform to promote solidarity through football. We also want the new generation to be interested in traditional football. Thus, we are coming forward to embrace and support Malaysian esports players,” says MFL’s chief executive officer Kevin Ramalingam.
“One of our pillars in the Next50 strategic blueprint is the fans. At MFL, we want to put fans and the entire Malaysian community at the forefront of Malaysian professional football. Esports is also a way to open up new revenue streams for the clubs via collaborations with sponsors to reach out to different audiences – on ground and in the virtual sphere.”