The E-League starts on Thursday at 8pm AEDT, but the competition already has a fan base and is starting to attract new fans to the A-League.
Each A-League club has two players representing them in the E-League – an Xbox player and a PlayStation 4 player – who will vie for competition points and ladder positions over nine regular season rounds.
The E-League will see some of Australia’s best EA FIFA 18 competitors go head-to-head, which has already created new A-League fans, according to Adelaide United’s Jamie O’Doherty.
O’Doherty, the brother of Reds midfielder Jordan O’Doherty, told A-League.com.au: “I already know of people in the Australian FIFA community that aren’t necessarily interested in the A-League or never used to be, but this has come along and one of their favourite gamers is representing a club, so they feel like they want to support the club as well.”
“If things like that start to happen then I think it’s only going to be positive for the A-League in general.”
However, the E-League won’t just attract gamers to become fans of the A-League.
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The FIFA video game has become a way for young football fans to engage and learn about Australian football and the A-League in a way that wasn’t possible before its invention. According to Digital Australia, 93% of Australian households have a gaming device and 60% of households have a gaming console.
“Many kids these days grow up with a PlayStation so it’s easy for them to click on a console and play games,” said O’Doherty.
“At the end of the day you’re getting a better understanding of the A-League and what players are in it.
“If you ask me a question about players in a team I’ll probably be able to tell you most of their names and what foot they are just because of FIFA.
He added: “Obviously the hope is that this does result in more people wanting to go to football games and wanting to play football.”
While O’Doherty has been signed to a professional eSports contract with FUTWiz, he himself still harbours dreams of playing professional football in the A-League.
He hopes the E-League will help drive the same aspirations for young players.
“At the end of the day I’m playing FIFA at the moment but I’m football crazy,” he said.
“I’ve supported Adelaide since I was a young kid so I’m not just in this for gaming, gaming, gaming. I want the league to grow as well because my brother plays in it.”
You can watch O’Doherty’s first E-League match live on the E-League Twitch channel and Fox Sports Digital from 8pm AEDT on Thursday.