13 November 2023 – The Virtual Bundesliga (VBL) is kicking off the new season with a first: On 18-19 November, the participating clubs from the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 will come together to play all fixtures of the first matchday of the VBL Club Championship. For the first time, a regular matchday will be held entirely in person instead of online.
The competition has undergone an incredible growth spurt for the new season.Jörg Höflich, Head of Virtual Bundesliga at the DFL
The VBL Club Championship is a sub-strand of the VBL, in which Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs compete against each other. 35 teams are taking part in the 2023-24 season, more than ever before. Compared with last season, the new clubs from the Bundesliga are Borussia Dortmund, Sport-Club Freiburg, and FC Bayern München. The new competitors from Bundesliga 2 are Fortuna Düsseldorf and 1. FC Magdeburg, as well as the three newly promoted clubs SV Elversberg, VfL Osnabrück and SV Wehen Wiesbaden.
Jörg Höflich, Head of Virtual Bundesliga at the DFL: “The competition has undergone an incredible growth spurt for the new season. There are more clubs taking part and more matches being held than ever. The Virtual Bundesliga has had a growing following for years, but this gives the league and the clubs an enormous opportunity to make it even more popular. We are planning yet more offline matchdays after the first, because emotions run even higher when the players meet in person.”
Final on 23 and 24 March 2024
These latest developments are the next stage in the Virtual Bundesliga’s continued evolution. The DFL founded the Virtual Bundesliga together with EA SPORTS in 2012, making it the first professional league to launch its own eSports competition. In 2018, the decision to launch the VBL Club Championship as a competition for Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs, in addition to the “VBL Open” competition for all players, was taken in response to the increasing popularity of the VBL, the growing relevance of eSports in general and the DFL’s focus on football simulation games.
In total, 34 matchdays will be played as part of the 2023-24 VBL Club Championship season before the final on 23-24 March 2024. In addition to the trophy and the title of German VBL Club Champion, the prize money pool has increased again, this year to €87,500. RB Leipzig lifted the trophy for the second consecutive time in May 2023. The previous titleholders were 1. FC Heidenheim 1846 and SV Werder Bremen.
All matches live on the channels of the VBL and the clubs
In the upcoming season, the VBL Club Championship will be played in EA SPORTS FC™ 24, the latest football simulation from EA SPORTS. In “Ultimate Team” mode, the participants can put together their line-ups with players from all clubs of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2. As a special feature, each club can nominate two players from their current team to be “VBL Power Items” – their digital avatars in EA SPORTS FC 24 receive the highest-possible player rating of 99 for the VBL Club Championship. The star performers on the virtual pitch of the VBL Club Championship will therefore be each club’s own player personalities. Each club can also indulge in a little nostalgia by selecting one “Hero Item” from the Bundesliga (such as Tomas Rosicky, Bixente Lizarazu, or Dimitar Berbatov) and one German “Legend Item” (such as Gerd Müller, Lothar Matthäus, or Bastian Schweinsteiger).
The VBL Open began on 1 November 2023. This part of the competition is open to all interested players and acts as a four-month qualification stage for the VBL Open Playoffs, which bring the VBL Open and the VBL Club Championship together – the 16 best individual players from the VBL Open each month compete against the qualifiers from the VBL Club Championship. The winners of the VBL Open Playoffs are rewarded with a place in the VBL Grand Final, where they will play not only for the title of German VBL Champion, but also to qualify for further competitions: the two finalists in the 2024 VBL Grand Final will each receive a place in the FC Pro World Championship. Moreover, each of the four semi-finalists will win a place in the eChampions League.
The winner of the 2023 VBL Grand Final and thus reigning German VBL Champion is Antonio Radelja, who will play for VfB Stuttgart in the new season.