Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd. is proud to announce that the Inter-Prefectural Esports Championship 2019 IBARAKI – Winning Eleven Category was held recently, as part of the Culture Program of Iki Iki Ibaraki Yume Kokutai ("Active Ibaraki Dream National Sports Festival"), the 74th National Sports Festival.
Organized by the Iki Iki Ibaraki Yume Kokutai/Iki Iki Ibaraki Yume Tournament Executive Committee, the Japan Esports Union (JeSU), and the Japan Football Association (JFA), with KONAMI lending tournament support as competition title publisher, this national championship was the first of its kind. Matches in the competition were played through the console version of "eFootball Winning Eleven 2020."*1
There were two divisions in the competition: an Open Division, with no age restrictions, and a Youth Division, reserved for players in high school. Matches consisted of a team-vs.-team format, with each team having between three and five players. A qualifying round was held in each administrative division of Japan from April to August of this year, the participants consisting of players who had registered on the competition's website. The results of this round were used to determine the rosters of the teams that represented each administrative division in the championship.
On Saturday, October 5 and Sunday, October 6, 48 teams (one for each administrative division plus one additional team for the host prefecture) in both the Open and Youth Divisions gathered at the Tsukuba International Conference Center in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, to battle it out in hopes of becoming the inaugural champions.
In the Youth Division, Team Nagasaki and Team Aomori went head-to-head in the finals, with Team Aomori (Takeru Abe, Kaito Koshita, Ekuya Kida, Ku Sakai, and Yoshiomi Hanada) coming out on top 3-1. In the Open Division, it was an intra-prefectural rumble as Team I Ibaraki clashed with Team II Ibaraki, with Team II (Shintaro Taguchi, Shohei Yamazaki, Seita Sakai, and Tsubasa Aihara) emerging victorious 4-3, to become the first ever champions.
The conference center welcomed many spectators and members of the press over both days of the action. One notable visitor was Her Imperial Highness Princess Tsuguko of Takamado, who was in Ibaraki Prefecture to attend the 74th Sports Festival as well as perform other royal duties in the area.
Remarks from Representatives of the Winning Teams:
Team Aomori (Youth Division)
Ekuya Kida: "It's incredible how fun esports is for men and women of all ages. All our practice paid off."
Team II Ibaraki (Open Division)
Seita Sakai: "What an amazing feeling. We're the best in Japan! I wouldn't be standing here without my teammates. I would like to thank them, my family and everyone who came out to support us. It means so much."
Konami Digital Entertainment will continue to offer fun and exciting experiences through its esports initiatives.
- *1In the qualifying round, the competition title was the console version of "Winning Eleven 2019.
About KONAMI’s esports initiatives
Esports, a term that denotes games played as sporting competitions, is growing in popularity, particularly in the U.S. and Asia. The numbers for both spectators attending tournaments as well as broadcast audiences are on their way to rivaling those of established major sports. KONAMI has held world championships for the Winning Eleven series and the “Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game" since 2001 and 2003, respectively. For the domestic market, in 2016 it launched a Japanese championship for the Jikkyou Pawafuru Puroyakyu series. In addition to such tournaments organized by KONAMI, of all the esports titles chosen for exhibition competition at the 18th Asian Games Jakarta-Palembang, which ran from August to September 2018, the console version of "Winning Eleven 2018" was the only one from a Japanese video game publisher, and KONAMI also lent its support to this part of the Games. Through these initiatives, we are working to further stimulate and expand the esports market.
About the Winning Eleven series
A flagship KONAMI IP, the Winning Eleven soccer game series has been enjoyed for over 20 years, going back to its birth as a console title in 1995.Through efforts such as its esports world championship to crown the best console Winning Eleven players on the planet, KONAMI is working to bring the fun and excitement of eFootball to an ever greater audience.