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Philadelphia Union Announce Union Esports Open

January 18, 2018 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Philadelphia Union News Release

Gaming Partnerships With Independence Blue Cross, N3rd Street Gamers

Union to partner with IBX, N3rd Street Gamers as part of eMLS competition as club seeks to find best FIFA 18 player in Philadelphia

CHESTER, Pa. (Jan. 18, 2018) - Philadelphia Union today announced partnerships with Independence Blue Cross and N3rd Street Gamers as part of the club's foray into eMLS, Major League Soccer's competitive gaming league for EA SPORTS™ FIFA 18.

Both partnerships are integral elements in the Union's quest to select its representative at eMLS Cup, where representatives from participating clubs will vie for an automatic berth in the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series Playoffs and a chance to be crowned the undisputed FIFA 18 World Champion at the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018 taking place in late 2018.

"eMLS is an innovative, exciting initiative and we're looking forward to hosting the Union Esports Open soon in order to find the best FIFA 18 player in Philadelphia," said Union Vice President of Marketing Doug Vosik. "Gaming is a burgeoning industry and connecting the Philadelphia Union to the gaming community is a logical way for us to help grow the game of soccer - both real-life and virtual - across our area."

"We're pleased to both expand our partnership with Independence Blue Cross as well as welcome a new partner in N3rd Street Gamers to the Philadelphia Union family," added Union Senior Vice President of Corporate Partnerships Jean-Paul Dardenne. "These are two first-class organizations and we are confident that their support will help take our eMLS events to the next level."

Independence Blue Cross, the Union's first gaming partner, will present the Union Esports Open, a tournament consisting of three events throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. After the completion of the Union Esports Open, the winner will be crowned Philadelphia's best FIFA 18 player and will represent the Union at eMLS Cup.

"We are proud to be working with a longtime partner, the Philadelphia Union, on this unique initiative. Independence Blue Cross' support of the growing esports industry demonstrates our commitment to embracing the latest technologies and reaching consumers in new ways. We look forward to supporting eMLS and hosting the upcoming Union Esports Open at our customer experience center, Independence LIVE," said Paula Sunshine, chief marketing executive for Independence.

As part of the partnership, IBX will provide participating competitors with exclusive Union warm-up gear and will also activate their partnership with branding on the club's livestream, social media, and other video content surrounding the events.

Meanwhile, N3rd Street Gamers becomes the second gaming partner for the Union. A Philadelphia gaming network focused on serving semi-professional, amateur, and developing gamers, NSG will take on the role of official esports provider. Powering and administrating the Union Esports Open, the company will also produce the live stream of the competition.

"Growing up in EPYSA, then playing soccer in college at Drexel, and now making a career out of esports, I can't think of any better way to bring it all full circle than partnering with the Union to produce their eMLS tournament," said John Fazio, CEO of N3rd Street Gamers. "What excites me the most about esports is that no longer will the benefits of competition like leadership, communication, collaboration and camaraderie be withheld from those unable or unwilling to participate in physical competition. Esports has tremendous potential, especially for our youth, in bridging the divide between physical athletes and those who want to compete but may not be physically able to."

Founded in 2009, the NSG team's goal is to empower competitive video game communities with resources to grow. What started as just a gaming venue has become full service gaming equipment, tournament administration, and broadcast services to gamer communities in Philadelphia, including Fragadelphia, Cheeseadelphia, Go For Broke, and Brotherly Brawl.

Gamers interested in signing up for the Union Esports Open can find more information on the event here . All gamers must be at least 16 years old to participate.

eMLS will pit the best FIFA 18 competitors from the U.S. and Canada, representing MLS clubs, against each other to determine who will represent the League in the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series Playoffs on the Road to the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018. eMLS Cup will debut this April at PAX East, the enormously popular gaming culture festival in Boston that takes place this year from April 5-8 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

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