With the league on indefinite hiatus, England’s Premier League is making a return of sorts with a weeklong FIFA tournament that will air on NBC. Officially called the ePremier League Invitational Tournament, the event will begin on April 21st and feature representatives from all 20 teams competing in a single-elimination tournament. The league says that all prize money from the tournament will be donated to the National Health Service.
All matches will be streamed on nbcsports.com, the Premier League’s site and social channels, as well as Sky Sports’ Twitch and YouTube pages. The semifinals and finals will also air on NBCSN in the US and Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League in the UK. (You can check out the full bracket here.) The tournament will feature a number of participating stars, including Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Raheem Sterling from Manchester City.
Virtually all professional sports leagues have been on hiatus due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and many, like the Premier League, have turned to video games as a way to keep fans engaged. MLS recently ran a tournament where high-level FIFA players teamed up with professional soccer stars. NBA stars like Kevin Durant and Devin Booker have been competing in NBA 2K. Later this week, hockey greats Wayne Gretzky and Alex Ovechkin will face off in an NHL 20 competition. Professional racing has also made a huge shift to virtual competition. ESPN has even turned to gaming as a new programming option.
Meanwhile, esports have attempted to fill in that void, with professional League of Legends, Overwatch, Call of Duty, and Counter-Strike leagues all shifting to online matches.