Last year, Manchester City’s eSports team bagged the ePremier League title. Long-time player Shaun “Shellzz” Springette brought home the biggest prize in British eSports football, some five years after the club established its professional team and recruited their inaugural eSports athlete Kieran “Kez” Brown.
City, along with many other major European football clubs, have benefitted immensely from their involvement in eSports during its formative years. It’s become one of the most effective marketing strategies for reaching younger demographics of potential City supporters. The average viewership demographic of eSports is 26 years old, a clear contrast with the average premier league demographic age of 42. It’s all part of City’s master commercial plan, which saw revenues rise by 8% year-on-year in their latest 2020-21 accounts.
The ePremier League returned for the 2021/22 campaign and a fourth season since its inauguration. The competition, which is open to UK-based gamers aged 16 and over, enables players to represent their favourite Premier League clubs in the official tournament played on EA Sports’ latest FIFA 22 release.
How did Manchester City perform at the 2022 ePremier League Finals?
The 2022 ePremier League Finals contained a slightly revised format, creating more of a team-based competition that’s less focused on individuals. This year’s event saw each Premier League club nominate one Xbox and one PlayStation player to compete in the FIFA 22 finals. Although representatives of each Premier League club play individually, the Xbox and PlayStation players work together to try and build a winning aggregate score-line.
Manchester City’s Shaun “Shellzz” Springette would ordinarily have assumed the role as PlayStation representative for City in this year’s finals. Shellzz is one of the most respected names in FIFA eSports. After taking the £20,000 first prize in March 2021, many eSports pundits believed City would be challenging for honours in the 2022 ePremier League once again. Shellzz was not involved in this year’s Finals, forcing City to use a temporary sub in the shape of Volcano Esports athlete Brandon Hughes. Meanwhile Ryan Pessoa was named the Xbox representative.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. City were drawn in Group B of the group stage of the ePremier League Finals, alongside real-life title rivals Liverpool, as well as Everton and Leicester City. Things could not have gone any worse for City, who promptly lost all four of their group stage fixtures.
It started out with two narrow 3-2 defeats to Leicester and Everton respectively, which left Hughes and Pessoa needing to win their two remaining games with Burnley and Liverpool and hope that a 50% win ratio would be enough to clinch second place in the group.
However, things were about to get a lot worse for Hughes and Nessoa, who were soundly beaten 5-0 by Burnley, before a 7-0 thumping from group winners Liverpool ensured City would finish bottom of Group B and firmly out of the competition.
How the rest of the 2022 ePremier League Finals played out
After breezing into the knockout stages with a 100% record, Liverpool looked in great shape to make their mark. However, they were unceremoniously booted out at the quarter-final stage in a 3-1 loss to Group C runners-up Crystal Palace.
Group A and C winners Brentford and Leeds United eased their way into the last four, as did Group D winners Norwich City, with the Canaries dumping out Chelsea in an emphatic 5-2 victory.
Norwich subsequently booked their place in the 2022 ePremier League Final with a nervy 2-1 win over Leeds United. The highest drama was reserved for the second semi-final when Brentford and Crystal Palace ended 1-1 and a penalty shoot-out ensued. The Bees prevailed 4-1 to clinch a place in the final.
The Grand Final, which was televised live on Sky Sports, saw Norwich thrive under the media spotlight running out 5-1 winners. It was a remarkable victory for Damien “Damie” Augustyniak and Jack “GoalPoacher” Wignall, with the latter maintaining and adding to the 3-1 lead given to the team by Augustyniak in the first Xbox leg.
The duo shared a first prize of £30,000, with the Brentford finalists also landing a share of £15,000. Additionally, all finalists at the 2022 ePremier League Final have bagged a place at the EA SPORTS FIFA 22 Global Series European Playoffs.