The Saudi Pro League Goes Digital

Published May 7th, 2020 - 12:45 GMT
eMBS League Challenge logo (Photo: SG)
eMBS League Challenge logo (Photo: SG)

COVID-19 might have rocked the sporting world and brought the on-pitch action to a halt, but the heroes of Saudi football’s top tier are gearing-up to bring the thrills of live soccer back to their legions of fans...all via their gaming consoles!

Launched as part of $10million charity esports event Gamers Without Borders, the eMBS League Challenge — which will stream live from May 9 — will pair professional footballers from each of the Saudi Professional League’s (SPL) 16 clubs with elite-level FIFA pro gamers.

Together, they will battle their way through a four-team group stage where the footballers will play representatives from their league rivals, and the gamers — playing on behalf of the same KSA club — will square-off against their esports counterparts.

The top performing eight clubs will progress to knock-out tournament football, which will feature quarterfinals and semifinals, before what already promises to be an unmissable final held on May 14.

All the action will be streamed live on Gamers Without Borders’ streaming platforms via Twitch and YouTube for fans to tune in and cheer on their clubs.

Providing commentary on the games will be some of the Arab world’s most renowned football voices, with pre and post-match analysis also part of the program.

“We can see the potential of eSports in a competition like the eMBS League Challenge. We can reach out to any audience. In this case, football fans can enjoy the sport they love even in a difficult time such as the one we are in.

“The world does not have to stop. That is the power of eSports,” said Prince Faisal Bin Bandar, chairman of the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports (SAFEIS), who organized Gamers Without Borders.

He added, "We have footballers and gamers competing with one another in this eMBS League Challenge. The football stars game along with their teammates from their club's eSports teams. The event promises to be one of the most exciting we have in Gamers Without Borders."

Gamers Without Borders is uniting the global gaming community over seven weeks. It is open to all levels of gamers, with its elite level players competing for a share of a $10million prize fund that will be donated to key international charities leading the fight against COVID-19.

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