The German Soccer League (DFL) and ESL, the world’s largest esports company, enter into a strategic partnership to further develop the Virtual Bundesliga (VBL). In 2012, the DFL was the first professional soccer league to establish an eFootball competition with the VBL. Together with the ESL and its expertise in building and expanding ecosystems in connection with digital sports, the DFL would like to further develop and professionalize the VBL.

Within the framework of the partnership, ESL will take over the entire media production for the national VBL competitions. The “featured matches” of the VBL Club Championship, in which clubs of the Bundesliga and the 2nd Bundesliga compete against each other, are prepared by ESL in a virtual studio including moderation and streamed on the official channels of the VBL. In addition, the VBL Club Championship, the corresponding final round for the title of German Club Champion in eFootball and the season-ending tournament VBL Grand Final will be covered editorially in social media. The VBL Club Championship will start into the 2020/21 season on Tuesday.

The ESL also acquires extensive media rights to the VBL, combined with the possibility and goal of licensing these to various distribution partners in coordination with the DFL. The 26 clubs participating in the VBL Club Championship will also receive extensive rights to broadcast and cover their matches on their own channels. The DFL’s goal is to meet the growing interest in esports even more comprehensively through this cooperation. The ESL contributes its experience as one of the world’s leading providers of digital and vertically integrated media production – from live competition on location to the virtual studio and digital broadcasting.

“eFootball has been a fundamental part of the esports community and the ESL for many years,” says Ralf Reichert, Co-CEO of the ESL: “Together with the DFL, Germany’s most important sports league, we want to develop the VBL into a renowned sports league and take it to the next level. We can thus authentically transfer the emotions and values of soccer into the digital world and make the Virtual Bundesliga accessible to everyone – whether fan or athlete”.

“The Virtual Bundesliga is already the most authentic representation of a soccer league in EA Sports FIFA. We would like to further establish it as a digital competition,” says Andreas Heyden, EVP Digital Innovations at DFL: “With ESL, we have gained a partner for this that has already proven that it can successfully establish esports competitions and communities worldwide – also in the area of soccer simulations. We want to make the VBL even more exciting and exciting to experience, and the ESL brings the experience and passion to achieve just that”.

The Virtual Bundesliga competitions are organized by the DFL together with game publisher Electronic Arts (EA). In the VBL Club Championship, the German Club Champion in eFootball is determined among the 26 clubs in the Bundesliga and 2nd Bundesliga participating with their esports players. In the VBL Grand Final, the German eFootball Champion among the individual players is determined.

  • VBL Open: Functions as free in-game mode in FIFA. A Bundesliga team is selected by individual players, the 104 best players (based on monthly balance sheets, the best 13 per console per month on PlayStation and Xbox) qualify for the VBL Playoffs. Each player has 90 matches per month available.
  • VBL Club Championship: Clubs from the Bundesliga and 2nd Bundesliga compete with their own esports players and play in a league system with two divisions and in the subsequent final round for the title of German Club Champion in eFootball. Players from the best teams qualify directly for the VBL Grand Final, other players qualify for the VBL Playoffs.
  • VBL Playoffs: The qualifiers of the VBL Open and VBL Club Championship play for entry into the VBL Grand Final.
  • VBL Grand Final: At the final tournament the German eFootball Champion will be determined among the individual players.
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(Image) Source: Press release