The first-ever FIFA eWorld Cup was held this past weekend at London’s O2 Arena, and saw Saudi Mosaad ‘MSDossary’ Aldossary roundly defeat Belgian opponent Stefano Pinna 4-0 on aggregate across two legs, taking home a $250,000 (£193,000) prize pot for his troubles.
And that’s just the start, according to EA. Speaking with GamesIndustry, FIFA competitive gaming commissioner Brent Koning explained how he and EA Sports sees the competition evolving over the years to come - and a lot of it comes down to embracing the diversity of FIFA's playing audience.
"You see not just video games changing, but the sports landscape is changing as well," he said, "The most viewed soccer match of all time in North America was the women's World Cup. We have to keep our eye on diversity all the time... that's what's in front of the camera, but most importantly what's not in front of the camera. That's what makes us actually diverse, not the perception of diversity.”
With 60 nations participating in the eWorld Cup in 2018 – around 20 million-plus players total – there’s a certainly broad spectrum of players involved, and a wide range of backgrounds for those competing.
“What we're trying to do is we're trying to build a platform that can adapt,” Koning explained, “But also we're in a spot where we need to do better in certain areas. That is something we're constantly working on. Whether that's ethnic diversity, gender diversity, even age diversity to be honest.”
Admitting there’s still work to be done – in the eWorld Cup tournament and in the wider entertainment sphere – Koning was positive about where things are headed: “We're an open tournament and the goal here is to be diverse, not just when the camera is rolling, and truly live that. So we're going to continue to do that."
Meanwhile, back at the 2018 final, new world champion MSDossary told the Evening Standard he now considers the UK his second home: "This is my second event in the UK and second win so I think this is my second home. I hope every year I am the champion again.”