DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga and ESL, the world’s largest eSport company, are entering into a strategic partnership to develop the Virtual Bundesliga (VBL) further. The VBL’s launch in 2012 meant that the DFL was the first professional football league to launch an eFootball competition. Together with ESL and its expertise in establishing and expanding ecosystems in connection with digital sport, the DFL would like to further develop and professionalise the VBL.
Within the framework of the partnership, ESL is assuming responsibility for all media production surrounding the national VBL competitions. In this connection, ESL will produce featured matches of the VBL Club Championship, which sees clubs from the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 competing against each other, in a virtual studio complete with a presenter and stream them on the official channels of the VBL. In addition, the VBL Club Championship, the corresponding final round to determine the German Club Champion in eFootball, and the VBL Grand Final tournament at the end of the season will be supported by editorial content on social media. The 2020-21 season of the VBL Club Championship starts next Tuesday.
ESL is also acquiring comprehensive media rights to the VBL, accompanied by the opportunity to license them to various distribution partners in coordination with the DFL and the objective of doing just that. Moreover, the 26 clubs participating in the VBL Club Championship receive extensive rights to broadcast and report on their matches on their own channels. The DFL’s aim is to meet the growing interest in eSport even more comprehensively. The ESL will support this with its experience as one of the world’s leading providers in digital and vertically integrated media production – including live on-site competition, the virtual studio, and digital broadcasting.
“eFootball has been an integral part of the Esport community and of ESL for many years now,” said Ralf Reichert, Co-CEO of ESL. “Together with the DFL, the most important sports league in Germany, we want to develop the VBL further to make it a renowned sports league and take it to the next level. That way, we can authentically transfer the emotions and values of football to the digital world and make the Virtual Bundesliga accessible to all, whether as a fan or an athlete.”
“The Virtual Bundesliga is already the most authentic representation of a football league in EA Sports FIFA. We want to continue establishing it as a digital competition,” says Andreas Heyden, EVP Digital Innovations at the DFL. “To that end, we have secured a partner in ESL that has already proven its ability to successfully grow eSport competitions and communities worldwide – including in the area of football simulations. We would like to make the VBL even more alive and exciting, and ESL has the necessary experience and passion to do just that.”
The competitions of the Virtual Bundesliga are organised by the DFL together with game publisher Electronic Arts (EA). The German Club Champion in eFootball is determined in the VBL Club Championship through competition among the 26 participating clubs from the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 with their eAthletes, while the German eFootball Champion is determined in the VBL Grand Final among the individual players.
• VBL Open – Functions as a free in-game mode in FIFA. Individual players choose a Bundesliga team, and the 104 best players (the best 13 each month for both PlayStation and Xbox based on monthly data) qualify for the VBL Playoffs. Each gamer has 90 matches available to them per month.
• VBL Club Championship – Clubs from the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, each with a team of eAthletes, compete for the title of German Club Champion in eFootball. Players from the best teams qualify for the VBL Grand Final directly, other players for the VBL Playoffs.
• VBL Playoffs – The qualifiers from the VBL Open and the VBL Club Championship compete to go through to the VBL Grand Final.
• VBL Grand Final – At the Grand Final, the individual players compete to be crowned German eFootball Champion.
(DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga)