Virtual Bundesliga becomes official competition for DFL clubs from 2023-24 season
The Virtual Bundesliga (VBL) is to be included as an additional esports competition in the league statutes of the Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL).
The clubs in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 will take part in a competition for the title of German eFootball Club Champion from the 2023-24 season.
This step establishes the Virtual Bundesliga Club Championship as the esports competition of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 and will serve to advance the area’s professionalism.
From the 2023-24 season, the aim is for all clubs in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 to take part in the Virtual Bundesliga Club Championship. Each club will run an eFootball team (comprising of three to five players). The DFL will appoint a full-time person responsible for eFootball, and will be responsible for the maintenance of premises for the main eFootball venues and the necessary technical equipment.
The VBL criteria will be examined from the 2023-24 season as part of the licensing process. Any sanctions in the event of non-compliance with regard to VBL licence criteria will not affect match operations or competition in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2. As with other licensing criteria, (temporary) exceptions are possible in justified cases.
In 2012, in partnership with EA Sports, the DFL became the first professional football league to launch an esports competition. The VBL is also directly integrated into the EA Spoerts FIFA game series.
In 2018, the decision to launch the VBL Club Championship with the clubs in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, in addition to the VBL Open competition for individual 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. The two competitions are being brought together first in the VBL Open Playoffs and then in the VBL Grand Final (which this year took place on 4 to 5 June in Cologne).
The DFL has also been cooperating with ESL, the world’s largest esports company, since 2020. With its expertise in building up and expanding ecosystems in conjunction with digital sport, the DFL aims to further develop and professionalise the VBL.