EA Sports’ ‘Stay and Play Cup’, a Fifa 20 tournament featuring clubs like Manchester City, Liverpool and Real Madrid, kicks off on Wednesday evening with professional footballers — including Trent Alexander-Arnold and Phil Foden — representing their real-life teams in a virtual world.
In a departure from our traditional sports journalism, Telegraph Sport will be live blogging each round of games, from Wednesday to Sunday.
We are also excited to announce an exclusive daily column from Spencer Owen, Hashtag United creator, YouTube star, eSports commentator and voice synonymous with Fifa games. Each morning Spencer will be offering analysis of the previous night’s action.
It’s the first time the Telegraph has covered an eSports tournament in such depth. Join JJ Bull for all the ins and outs of a competition that might just lend you the feeling of suspense missing in a football calendar cancelled by coronavirus. For an idea of how much tension exists in football video game knock-out competitions, read this behind the scenes article on the PES League World Finals, where a 17 year old won $200,000 playing Pro Evo.
The Premier League teams featured in the Stay and Play cup are Chelsea (Cesar Azpilicueta), Liverpool (Alexander-Arnold), Manchester City (Phil Foden), and Tottenham (Serge Aurier), with Liverpool drawn against Real Madrid in a big round-of-16 match to get the tournament off to an exciting start. Here is the full list of the clubs and players taking part:
The tournament is in a knock-out format, with the first games taking place on Wednesday evening at 5pm. All the matches will be streamed on the EA Sports Twitch and YouTube channels, with a liveblog on Telegraph Sport for each round. In the interests of fairness, every team will have their players’ attributes set to an average of 85, ensuring the likes of Manchester City don’t have a massive advantage over weaker sides like PSV or AIK.
Wednesday’s first-round games are Brondby vs Marseille, Valencia vs Djurgården, PSV Eindhoven vs AIK, and Copenhagen vs HJK Helsinki, with the winner progressing to the open spots below:
Azpilicueta and Foden will learn their opponents for Chelsea and Manchester City’s first match on Thursday after the first round, but Alexander-Arnold already knows he must handle the tricky Brazilian Vinicius Jr in Liverpool’s opening match, while Tottenham’s Serge Aurier will take on Porto’s real life wonderkid Fabio Silva. Part of the intrigue is in how their on-pitch skills and style translate to the world of football video games.
Coverage begins on Telegraph Sport on Wednesday from 4:30pm, with our special guest column from Spencer Owen running every day from Thursday. All of our content will be open for everyone to read, with no need for a Premium subscription to enjoy.