Winner of ePremier League to be crowned following two days of intense gaming

The winner of the ePremier League will be crowned on Friday night. Credit: PA

With just weeks to go until the Premier League reaches its climax, it is as they say, all still to play for, with several clubs in the running to be classed the best in English football.

And the same goes for the slightly less well known ePremier League, with the final taking place on Friday evening.

In the past few weeks the best gamers in the UK have been whittled down to the top 40 in both online and live qualifiers, with two each representing the Premier League clubs, one on X BoxOne and the other on PlayStation 4.

The 20 players who competed in the ePremier League on PlayStation 4. Credit: Premier League

Years of gaming and months of preparation have come to a head as gamers battle to be crowned king (because they're all male) of FIFA 19, with the winners of the X BoxOne and PlayStation 4 strands going head-to-head to be crowned the overall winner.

Yet unlike the millions of pounds teams win after being crowned champions of the football Premier League, and unlike many Esports finals where millions of pounds can be shared between winners, the victor of the ePremier League will not get their hands on a pot of prize money.

The 20 players who competed in the ePremier League on the XBox One. Credit: Premier League

They will, however, win 850 FIFA Global Series points which add to a large, global league table which decides who will qualify for the biggest FIFA tournament of the year - the FIFA eWorld Cup - where the winner took home just over £190,000 in 2018.

However, this is small fry compared to the salaries and winnings of some professional esports players.

Multiplayer online battle arena video games such as Overwatch and Dota 2 are where the big bucks are.

Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi is the world's highest-earning esports player, with an estimated £3.05 million of prize money raked in, on top of an estimated £152,000-a-year salary as the longtime captain of Team Liquid which competes in numerous games.

While it might not quite be mainstream, esports is big business, and growing exponentially.

While it was worth only around £76 million in 2013, it is expected to be worth a whopping £1.45 billion by 2022, according to market research agency Ovum, revenue raised through a combination of sponsorship and media rights deals, game publisher fees and advertising, merchandise and ticket sales,

In October, Cloud9 - which has teams competing in games such as League of Legends, Overwatch, CS:GO, and Smash - became the world's most valuable esports team after raising £38 million in Series B funding, leading Forbes to peg the team with a £266 million valuation.

The same report also estimated that a total of nine esports teams worldwide are worth at least £85.7 million.

Evidence of this growing global wealth and interest can be found in the US where professional gamers will soon have their own stadium, with plans to build a £38 million, 3,500 seat venue in Philadelphia, set to open in 2021.

Philadelphia is set to open the Fusion Arena in 2021. Credit: Comcast

With 453.8 million people expected to watch esports globally in 2019, filling an entire stadium will be no issue.

Not only will esports grow in terms of size and money in the next few years, but it will also break the "stigma" associated with it, according to esports commentator Alex Richardson.

Among many outside of the gamer community, there is a perception that those playing video games are "wasting their lives in front of a computer," the 25-year-old explained, something he attributes to the fact that many gamers are millennials, raised by a generation who grew up without computers and consoles.

Alex Richardson believes there is a 'stigma' around how many people view esports. Credit: Alex Richardson

"Video games aren't what people think they are," Mr Richardson said.

"Too much of anything is bad, but as esports grows it's proving to people that it is a valid and exciting competition.

"It's not necessarily what people think it is."

He cited the example of professional gamers, many of who are on six-figure salaries, with dieticians and personal trainers in the same way that professional athletes might have.

Another area in which Mr Richardson sees esports changing going forward is through the participation of more female players.

Currently the field is largely male-dominated, something the commentator believes is due to the fact that video games "tended to be played more by boys when they were growing up".

Yet he believes that within the next decade, the field will become much more mixed as more women and girls see others like them participating and succeeding, with organisations like AnyKey set up for more "welcoming and inclusive gaming" and competitions such as the Intel Challenge which saw eight of the world’s best women’s CS:GO (a multiplayer first-person shooter game) teams battle for the title and a share of the £38,000 prize pool earlier this month.