In 2012, the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga became the first professional football league to have its own eSport competition when it launched the Virtual Bundesliga (VBL) in partnership with EA SPORTS. The VBL has enjoyed steadily growing popularity since its launch, with around 130,000 participants taking part last season. In the 2018-19 season, the increasing popularity of the VBL, the growing relevance of eSport in general and the DFL’s focus on football simulations led to the launch of the VBL Club Championship. A total of 26 clubs from the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 took part in the 2020-21 season. In contrast to the 2019-20 season (22 clubs), the field of participants has been split into two divisions along geographical lines (North-West and South-East) with 13 clubs in each division. Last season, 1. FC Heidenheim 1846 became the new German club champions.
Two players from each of the top four clubs in the final table of both divisions qualified directly for the VBL Grand Final, which bestowed the title of ‘German eFootball Champion’ on the victorious German player. Two players from each of the clubs placed fifth to tenth in both divisions of the VBL Club Championship – along with the best players in the VBL Open, which is open to all individual players in Germany – took part in the VBL Playoffs, another route to potentially qualify for the VBL Grand Final. This year, Umut Gültekin from RB Leipzig beat the entire competition and secured not only the title of ‘German eFootball Champion’ but also a cash prize of €40,000 (total prize pool: €100,000).
In addition, the DFL recently added the global Virtual Bundesliga (VBL) International Series to its stable of eFootball tournaments. This competition consists of online and offline tournaments in multiple countries. The search was on for the best players from Asia and America in the 2019-20 season.
More information on the VBL Club Championship.