The 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup is set to begin tomorrow at London’s O2 Arena as the best 32 players out of the 20 million that took part in qualifying battle it out for glory in the Grand Final.
Last year’s winner Spencer "Gorilla" Ealing will defend his crown in the English capital, where he was victorious in 2017, as 16 PlayStation and 16 Xbox stars vie for the right to call themselves the world's best.
The 2018 edition of the FIFA eWorld Cup has an increased prize pool of more than $400,000 (£305,000/€343,000), with the winner taking home $250,000 (£191,000/€214,000) - the highest in competitive FIFA history.
This year’s winner will receive an exclusive invitation to The Best FIFA Football Awards, as enjoyed by Gorilla in 2017, and the FIFA 18 world champion will also be presented with a new trophy.
Other new additions include a professional competition setting, a public ticketed event including VIP packages, and a full on-site esports experience for those at the O2 Arena.
Thirty-two players are divided into four groups of eight - two for PlayStation and two for Xbox - with each player competing against each other over a series of two games.
The winner will be decided based on the aggregate score of the two games played during the match.
Group stage action is due to begin tomorrow and conclude on Friday (August 3) with the top four from each section progressing to the knock-out stage.
The round of 16 and quarter-finals are also scheduled for Friday and will be followed by the semi-finals and final on Saturday (August 4).
A German player is yet to taste FIFA eWorld Cup glory since the tournament’s introduction in 2004, when it was known as the FIFA Interactive World Cup.
Kai "deto" Wollin, who returns to London to compete in the Grand Final again this year, came closest when he reached the final in 2017, only to suffer the agony of defeat against Gorilla.
Eight German contestants are in London this year, making them by far the most represented nation at the tournament as they aim to take the prize back home.
Among the eight is the attack-minded Michael "Megabit" Bittner, the Xbox top seed, who goes into the Grand Final having finished top scorer at the EA Sports Play-offs in Amsterdam with an impressive 75 goals.
The VfL Bochum 1848 esports player is one to watch in London.
Eight players from outside of Europe will be hoping to end the continent’s dominance at the tournament, with inaugural winner Thiago Carrico de Azevedo of Brazil and 2015 champion Abdulaziz Alshehri of Saudi Arabia being the only non-European victors.
Among those eight is Argentina’s Nicolas "nicolas99fc" Villalba, PlayStation’s top seed and one of the title favourites, and Saudi Arabia's Mosaad "Msdossary" Aldossary, the winner of April's FUT Champions Cup in Manchester.
Last month, esports took another step on the path towards possible Olympic inclusion in the future after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) agreed to establish a liaison group.
The decision was taken following the esports forum jointly hosted by the IOC and GAISF in Lausanne.
The exact composition of the group, which will include IOC and International Federation (IF) representatives, has not been confirmed but they will be given the chance to present at the Olympism in Action Forum in Buenos Aires in Argentina on October 5 and 6.
Further discussions will then take place at the IF Forum in Lausanne in November, while IOC President Thomas Bach revealed the topic will also be on the agenda at December's Olympic Summit.