Lower League eCup Finalizes 2023 Tournament Format, Dates
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - The Lower League eCup announced its revamped format and competition dates for the 2023 tournament. The 48 participating organizations in this year's tournament range from the second division of the American Soccer Pyramid to local amateur leagues and have been split into a 36-club Premier division and 12-club Second Division.
The road to the 2023 eCup Final will begin with the group stage draw on the evening of Tuesday, January 31. The draw will not be streamed out to constraints regarding production quality, with groups set to be released to the public at noon eastern on Wednesday, February 1.
After weeks of internal deliberation and careful consideration of individual participant and club availability, the eCup has also adjusted the dates for this year's tournament. The group stage will be played from February 15 - March 5, with the Knockout Stage to follow from March 8 - 25.
The 36-club Premier Division will consist of eight groups of four to five organizations, with competitors set to play one match against each of their group opponents. The top two teams from each group will advance to a 16-club knockout stage, with all knockout stage matchups played over two legs in a format strongly resembling the 32-team club used at the men's & women's FIFA World Cups.
"More than ever before, this year's eCup format promotes high-pressure, competitive matchups that will make this year's tournament the most exciting edition to date," said eCup Director Joe Meyer. "We are extremely excited to expand on our roots of a tournament that is equitable to our competitors while leveraging a format that makes the eCup an attractive viewing option for supporters of all walks of life."
The Second Division will consist of three groups of four teams, with competitors playing one match against each of their group opponents. The top two teams from each group and the top two third-place finishers will advance to an eight-club knockout stage, with all knockout stage matches played over two legs.
NEW FOR 2023
New for this year, the eCup has added UEFA Europa-league-styled competitions to complement the Knockout Stage. In the Premier Division, the eight third-place finishers will compete for the Challenge Cup, while the other twelve competitors will compete for the eCup Shield. In the Second Division, the four participants that don't advance to the Knockout Stage will be joined by two "wild card" entries to form a six-club second division Challenge Cup. Similarly to the Knockout Stage, these brackets will follow a single-elimination format, with matches played over two legs.
"With only 44% of clubs set to advance to the knockout stage, competition for the 16 berths in the championship bracket will be more competitive than ever" said Meyer. "Not only will a condensed knockout stage lead to more competitive matches in the group stage & beyond, but it will also open opportunities for all of our competitors to play meaningful matches past the group stage, in a format that gives every competitor a realistic chance to bring home a title to their club."
ABOUT THE LOWER LEAGUE eCUP
Founded in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lower League eCup is an annual FIFA tournament that connects clubs & supporters from across the American soccer pyramid. Founded by supporters, for supporters, the eCup's reach and appeal extend beyond the traditional boundaries of eSports events. Over 140 clubs from 38 states have been represented and eCup matches have combined for tens of thousands of views since the tournament's inception.
Tournament Director & Founder