Konami, the Japanese video game company, has launched a new esports competition featuring seven Italian soccer clubs as part of its rebranded eFootball soccer simulation title.
The Coppa eFootball Italia will feature the top-division Serie A teams Inter Milan, AC Milan, Monza, Roma, Atalanta, Lazio, and Napoli, with each club represented by three different players.
The players will be selected youth team players, esports professionals, and fans that will qualify through a special tournament called KONAMICI.
Qualification and selection for the club’s representative squads, as well as the tournament, will be played out between December and April 2023, with the KONAMICI qualification stage beginning in February 2023.
The tournament will finish with an official grand final weekend, hosted in the city of Naples on the last weekend of April 2023.
The winning club will take home an unspecified grand prize, which will include a specialized eFootball multi-media and gaming center that will be installed at its youth training complex.
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The journey through the tournament will be documented through a series of episodes on eFootball’s YouTube social media channel, which will focus on analysis and highlights, as well as interviews and behind-the-scenes content.
Konami has rebranded its soccer simulation title PES to eFootball, moving away from yearly releases to a regularly updated title that is free to play on all platforms.
Throughout 2022 the company has struck deals with popular soccer clubs including English Premier League side Arsenal, German champions Bayern Munich, and Italian giants Inter Milan, among others.
The partnerships came after governing body FIFA concluded its partnership with developer EA Sports, marking an end to the popular FIFA video game title.
In August, the Japanese developer announced a multi-year deal with the French Football Federation (FFF), becoming the governing body’s official soccer video game partner. The deal means the possibility of a similar French title being developed soon.
Meanwhile, Inter Milan has teamed up with prominent Italian esports organization Mkers as it looks to increase its presence in the gaming sector.
The new partnership will see the pair collaborate on a new eFootball roster, while Mkers will assist the club in developing its esports division.
Mkers currently fields teams in FIFA, Valorant, NBA 2k, Assetto Corsa, and Rainbow Six.
Paolo Cisaria, managing director of Mkers, said: “This is a massive collaboration for Mkers and is a clear signal of our growth so far.
“This is another chance for us to expand our presence abroad. We will work hard to show that we are worthy of the trust placed in us.”
The club has been building out its esports presence after partnering with Italian esports organization QLASH in 2020, which led to the club announcing a FIFA 21 and FIFA 22 roster.
Alessandro Antonello, chief executive at Inter Milan, said: “Working with a leading firm in gaming such as Mkers allows our club to further develop the esports project, which is of great strategic importance to Inter in terms of continuing to innovate and connect with the younger generations around the world.”