efootballing stars in the spotlight as quest to reach UEFA eEURO 2020 finals intensifies
Ten countries will battle it out over the next couple of weeks as they try to book the final six spots available for the online UEFA eEURO 2020 final tournament in May, with matches on UEFA’s YouTube channel.
With football across most of Europe having been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of Europe’s top efootballers are finding themselves in the spotlight as they strive to qualify for next month’s UEFA eEURO 2020 final tournament. The competition is being played exclusively on KONAMI’s eFootball PES 2020.
“It’s a dream. I love football and efootball. Since I was a child, I always dreamed of representing my country and living my passion,” said Spain’s Jose Carlos Sánchez, who also goes by his gaming name of josesg93.
“I think it's a good moment for esports. Now people need entertainment, and with most people at home, it can be the right moment to show the potential of esports, how it works and how entertaining and emotional it can be for the audience.”
Lithuania are in the same play-off group as Spain. Interest in the competition has increased massively in the Baltic country over the past few weeks, with over more than 10,000 fans watching their team’s matches online.
“We are glad that, people are finding an alternative to physical sports during this difficult period,” said Donatas Grabarčiukas. “After the group stage, interest was high, but after getting through to the eEURO 2020 play-offs, interest in efootball increased even more. Almost 12,500 fans watched one of our matches in the group stage. We have also received attention from television and the media.”
The play-offs will take place over two matchdays, on 20 and 27 April. There are five teams in each playoff group, who will play each other in a ‘home and away’ format, with the top three from each group qualifying for the finals. Selected matches will be broadcast on UEFA’s YouTube channel starting from 17:15 CET on each matchday.
Finland are one of the national teams looking to book their place in the final tournament. They finished second in Group D, behind runaway winners Greece, who finished with a one hundred percent record.
“It simply feels great! UEFA should have more competitions like this in future,” Finland’s Jussi “grillsmak” Aalto says. However, he expects things to get even harder now. “I think the play-offs will be even harder than the group stage matches. But if we play our best game, we have a chance to reach the finals.”
Jussi, who joined Finland’s national esports team this season, has arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, a condition that affects the extension and movement of his joints. The 33-year-old uses a wheelchair and has been playing competitive esports since 2015.
“For obvious reasons, I can’t take part in traditional sports and therefore I take so much pride in the success I have experienced over the last five years. I have found an excellent substitute to playing real-life football by engaging with efootball through my PlayStation,” he adds.
The top 16 national efootball teams from across the continent will compete in the online final tournament on 23 and 24 May. The finalists had been scheduled to gather in London in July, but the tournament will now take place virtually.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Greece, Germany, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Romania and Serbia are the ten countries to have qualified for the final tournament directly after winning their groups.
Download the UEFA EURO 2020 App