Final Fantasy 14 Players Bringing Blitzball to the Game Wasn’t Easy

One of the most beloved elements of Final Fantasy 10, Blitzball, may not be an officially implemented minigame in Final Fantasy 14, but those interested in taking in a game of underwater soccer still have a way to get their sphere pool fix. It still seems unlikely that Blitzball will become something officially added to the game. The idea was shot down by executive producer Naoki Yoshida during 2023’s Los Vegas FF14 Fanfest with a direct and simple “No Blitzball.” That, however, hasn’t stopped roleplayers from implementing the sport.

Ahead of their second season as a league and the sixth season of Blitzball overall, Game Rant spoke with EBL coordinators Lakaera and Ffon about how the sport has been adapted from its original form and why Yoshida’s refusal to implement the minigame as part of Final Fantasy 14’s Gold Saucer makes a lot of sense from their perspective


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Despite the reluctance of the game’s developers to formally include the sport in their world, Blitzball has been part of the Final Fantasy 14 roleplaying community for years, nearly since the implementation of swimming in the game. It has only become larger and more complex since then.

How the Etheirys Blitzball League Plays

This season, nearly 100 roleplayers from across the North American datacenters will join teams and take the underwater pitch to win the Skybound Cup and defeat defending champions, the Ishgard Sky Strikers. Those players will be joined by sponsors, cheerleaders, staff, trading card makers, and fans of all stripes in a fully realized roleplaying sports league.

Representing some of the most striking locations in Final Fantasy 14, teams like the Sharlayan Archon Aces, the Radz-at-Han Radiance, and the Garlean Ceruleum Knights will square off against the familiar home teams of the starting cities in the Limsa Lominsa Barracuda, the Ul’dah High Rollers, and the Gridania Greenwrath in a round robin tournament.

It will be played out over three or four months across two conferences as part of the Etheirys Blitzball League, but setting all of this up was not easy. Not only is there the coordination of the players to consider, but the adaptation of the sport as well. Lakaera explained the lengths the EBL had to go to when it came to adapting the sport.

We’ve had to effectively readjust the entire concept. In
Final Fantasy 10
you’re always controlling whoever has the ball
, so we have to find a way to let everyone feel like they’re a part of the team without being the main one holding the ball or to let multiple people be able to participate at once. Because keep in mind,
is a single player game too, so it made sense for the original game system to revolve around whoever had the ball.

In the EBL, players operate as teams on a field comprising two zones and three lanes–an inner zone in the center where team goals are and the ball enters play, and a left and right lane form the outer zone. Players maneuver through this field to position as best they can before shooting for the opposing player’s goal. Throughout, mechanics like shoving, blocking, and shooting all involve opposed dice rolls using the in-game random number generator, which blends both strategic thinking and randomness to create a complex and exciting sporting experience.

Blitz Roleplayers Get Why Yoshida Said No

Despite roleplayers’ success in making a league happen, coordinators are skeptical that a formal minigame is ever going to come to Final Fantasy 14. It’s likely not for lack of interest–not only have players of the MMO repeatedly asked for the sport to be added in some capacity to their game, but even Star Wars has gotten in on FF10‘s Blitzball. Rather, as roleplayers designing their own system using dice rolls, Blitzball players have faced challenges adapting the sport like those Lakaera described and more, but she pointed out that developers implementing the game in Final Fantasy 14 would face that particular challenge as well, should the sport be team-based as it has been for roleplayers.

Ffon also pointed out that it would be a significant coding challenge to create the kind of game fans are hoping to see as part of the Gold Saucer offerings in Final Fantasy 14. And if limited to a single-player minigame, both coordinators agreed that the team aspect and culture of the roleplay Blitzball experience couldn’t be replaced by such an offering no matter how impressively designed.

If it does get incorporated, I don’t think it is going to be in the way that people think it’s going to be incorporated…because what goes into programming that sort of style of a game takes a lot of time. If that’s something that Square Enix is developing and keeping for the later reveal of Gold Saucer content that they’ve been talking about in the keynotes, awesome, but I’m not going to hold my breath over it.

Though the pair don’t expect a surprise reveal of an official Blitzball minigame, the fact that it likely wouldn’t be able to fully replicate the culture of the roleplay Blitzball leagues leaves them doubting that the minigame would be able to replace their league even if it was to be implemented.

When Roleplayers Blitz Off

The culture that’s formed around Blitzball has become a central part of Final Fantasy 14 roleplay over the years. A group called Card Kingdom has come together to create a Discord bot that simulates the sports trading card experience for the league, Blitzballers participate in other major roleplaying events on their off-season promoting the sport, sponsors host events boosting player morale throughout the year, and roleplayers representing the Senate of Garlemald, based on Rome’s Senate, have even taken a hand in developing their nation’s team. They’ll even be officially broadcasting this season on Twitch.

To say nothing of the stories individual players tell. The Kugane Daigoro team, for instance, has taken the role of heel in the upcoming season helping create a narrative off the pitch for players to engage in, while the Ishgard Sky Strikers had their championship honored at The Great Ishgardian Frostfaire, the annual Christmas roleplay event held in their home city. People talk about games long after the waves have settled, and Ffon was blown away at the first game of last season by how energized the crowd was.

There are a lot of people that come to watch Blitzball, but I have to admit, out of every single game that I announced, no one had the same energy as that first night when people saw that Blitzball was back. People were raving, calling for specific people, they were cheering on specific teams…That’s what drives me to keep up with the announcing and developing ways to get the roleplayers that are just spectating a little more engaged in the entire match, so they can cheer on their friends or pick a team that they really want to support.

Those fans, be they on the field, roleplayers spectating, or following along on Twitch, will be able to start off the Skybround Cup on March 9. No matter what team wins, they’ll do so following the admittedly self-evident advice from Final Fantasy 10’s Blitzball superstar Tidus–”when you’ve got the ball, you’ve gotta score.”

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Final Fantasy 14

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August 27, 2013

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T for Teen: Alcohol Reference, Animated Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence