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Pro Evolution Soccer abruptly loses another big name

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Borussia Dortmund cancels licensing agreement two years early

Borussia Dortmund which, despite this promotional screenshot, won’t be in Pro Evolution Soccer 2019
PES Productions/Konami

Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer has been hailed by critics and fans as a better-playing series than EA Sports’ behemoth FIFA. But licensing — real clubs, real leagues — is important to sim-quality sports titles, and Pro Evolution has much less than its rival. And Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 abruptly lost its only German club with a surprise announcement yesterday.

Borussia Dortmund’s agreement with Konami “was prematurely terminated” by the club, Konami said in a statement. The license had been expected to run through 2020. Konami didn’t list the reason why Borussia Dortmund spiked the deal. It posted the statement to advise fans that although the team had appeared in marketing shots of the game so far (above), it won’t be in the final product when that launches at the end of August.

Borussia Dortmund was the only club in Germany’s top-flight Bundesliga to appear under its own name in Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 (the others were ringers). There was no German domestic league (even one given generic treatment, as is the case for Spain, England and Italy in this game.) Konami has, over the years, put together a patchwork of licenses — two clubs from Spain’s La Liga (including FC Barcelona) several clubs from Serie A and three from the Premier League, but not the full leagues nor their names and symbols.

Now it looks like even that is starting to come apart. The one thing Pro Evolution Soccer did have over FIFA was the UEFA and Champions League licenses. However, UEFA back in April announced the end of that 10-year agreement. EA Sports has neither announced nor confirmed anything but it beggars the imagination FIFA would not pick that up.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 launches Aug. 28 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and Aug. 30 on Windows PC.