Canadian Premier League fans will, at last, have a chance to cheer on their club this Friday, as all eight CPL sides take part in the first-ever eCPL Home to Play tournament.
Players from every CPL team, each joining forces with a pro EA Sports FIFA 20 player, will compete this week in a knockout bracket as each club vies for a place in the eCPL Home to Play finals, which go down on April 24.
For those unsure of how this competition works, CanPL.ca has prepared a primer on the format — essentially, in each two-legged tie, CPLers will play each other in Leg 1 (with whichever FIFA side they choose), followed by pro gamers squaring off with their FIFA Ultimate Teams in Leg 2, the winners advancing to the next round.
All eight CPL players are excited to dip their toes into the world of esports, and they’ve spent some time during their self-isolation practicing for this month’s tournaments.
“The pressure’s on,” said HFX Wanderers representative (and real-life goalkeeper) Christian Oxner. “All my buddies are expecting me to do good. They think they’re pretty good, and I usually beat them at FIFA, so yeah, should be fun. I’m excited to get going on Friday.”
Forge FC’s Kwame Awuah added: “It’s kind of cool, because we’re competitive on the field and FIFA’s kind of an extension of that. Unfortunately we can’t choose ourselves (in the game), hopefully soon, but I think that it’s for bragging rights at the end of the day.”
RELATED READING: eCPL Home To Play tournament: What you need to know
Oxner, who’s been “training” — that is, playing FIFA 20 and streaming it on his own Twitch channel — told CanPL.ca he’s not yet sure which club he plans to use in competition, since he typically plays Ultimate Team.
“I have to do some research, and decide which team best suits my play style,” he said. He added that he’d been trying to get some training in with Halifax’s other representative, competitive gamer @TheMightyPed.
Awuah, on the other hand, has a decent idea already.
“I’m a Barcelona fan, so I’ll probably use Barcelona, but the other two teams are Liverpool or Manchester City,” he said. “I mean, if you’re trying to win you’re not gonna use, like, one of the teams in the K League.”
That said, Awuah agreed that anyone who dared try to win a tournament using, say, Fleetwood Town, would have to be pretty darn good.
“I don’t think I’m the best player at Forge,” Awuah admitted. “Some guys play FIFA religiously, more than I do.”
The left-back conceded that the likes of Jonathan Grant or Marcel Zajac may be better than him at the game, although he feels he’s best-suited to represent his club as the more outgoing personality — key for a gaming streamer.
Oxner is a little more bullish on his abilities. Is he the best FIFA player at HFX Wanderers?
“I like to think so,” he said, although he admitted he hasn’t played everyone at the club. “I’ve played a few guys a few times, but I usually beat up on (Alex) De Carolis pretty bad.”
The event, to be hosted by FIFA 20 personalities ChuBoi and Mike Labelle, kicks off at 6 p.m. ET on Friday night.
Full Week 1 Schedule:
- Game #1, at 6 p.m. ET: Forge FC vs. Valour FC
- Game #2, at 6 p.m. ET: Atlético Ottawa vs. Cavalry FC
- Game #3, at 7 p.m. ET: York9 FC vs. FC Edmonton
- Game #4, at 7 p.m. ET: HFX Wanderers FC vs. Pacific FC
- Semifinal #1, at 8 p.m. ET: Winner of Game #1 vs. Winner of Game #2
- Semifinal #2, at 9 p.m. ET: Winner of Game #3 vs. Winner of Game #4
- Final, at 10 p.m. ET: Semifinal winner #1 vs. Semifinal winner #2