Earlier this week, Trevor Keane, Co-Founder of Celtic eSports, announced plans to launch a new league in Autumn 2016, featuring local players as representatives of football clubs from the top leagues in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Isle of Man.
Just a few days on, we caught up with him to find out more about the format of the league, and the scope for future extension:
SBC: How exactly will the league format work; will it be a record of head to heads in specific eSports tournaments?
TK: Yes, the framework we have decided on will involve regional leagues flowing into the CESL. Initially, the top 8 players from the regions will play online and in arenas for the CESL title on a home and away basis. They will start with FIFA 17 and where possible the football club they are representing will be the team they play with in the league.
Points will be awarded similar to a football table. It is envisaged that the player that finishes top will be the champion and will win a cash prize. The person that finished bottom will play-off to remain in the league. The format of the play-off will be based on the overall winner of the regional leagues. The winner of each region will meet in a play-off for the CESL shield with the overall winner facing the bottom team in the CESL for promotion to the league.
SBC: How many local players are expected to represent each of the football clubs; and will this be based on locality or a choice on who you want to represent?
TK: Initially we will have 8 players and they will be assigned a club to represent. Due to licensing within FIFA, players may not get to represent the club they are assigned, but teams will be assigned to make it a fair starting point for all involved. While the initial focus is FIFA, we will also eventually work on Call of Duty, LOL and other multi-player games.
SBC: Can you give an early ‘heads up’ about any of the clubs that are on board; and why should more of the clubs want to get involved?
TK: At this point, we are unable to disclose the clubs involved but talks with teams are in final stages and all will be revealed in due course. The appeal for clubs is it opens a new audience, shows the clubs to be both innovative and on trend and in time will lead to additional revenue.
While clubs like West Ham United and Manchester City have the resources to employ full time e-sports players, other clubs don’t have those riches, so working with the Celtic E-Sports League affords them the chance to pool resources with other clubs and get involved in an exciting and growing area.
SBC: If this Autumn launch goes well, is there a plan to extend the competition to include representatives for teams in the English Premier League?
TK: At this point we are just focused on starting this year’s competition, but there will be scope to work with other leagues and regions not just the Premier League. We have had a lot of enquiries from clubs in England so there is a real interest in this.
SBC: How closely have you been working with the EA’s esports division? Are all the matches going to be played out online, or are you planning for some LAN events too?
TK: Our aim is to work very closely with EA, with leagues, streaming platforms, sponsors and dedicated TV channels to provide a real experience for fans and players. We want to ensure that the competition has the best – the majority of matches will be played online however there will be some LAN events.