The road to the FIFA20 eWorld Cup is officially underway after the EA FUT Champions Cup Stage I kicked off last weekend. In celebration of FIFA’s new Global Series, COPA90 sat down with three eSports superstars to understand what goes into becoming a pro player.
EA SPORTS FIFA may just be a game to some; a pastime to enjoy with friends and family. For others, it represents an elite career at the height of eSports gaming.
But what does it actually take to turn your favourite hobby into a professional career? What’s it like playing in front of a global audience? And how do the pros stay driven to compete on the biggest stages year in, year out?
In search of the answers, COPA90 sat down with three of the biggest FIFA players in the game. We chatted to FIFA18 World Champion, Msdossary; the UK’s number one player, Tekkz; and reigning, defending eWorld Cup champ, MoAuba.
“To have a World Champion from Saudi is incredible.”
Msdossary, FIFA18 World Champion
All three players have reached the pinnacle of their eSport in very different ways. For Msdossary, it all came about through playing with his brothers and a love of Premier League football.
“I’ve always watched a lot of football, especially the Premier League. I try to schedule my games around it.,” he tells COPA90. “I don’t support a specific team, just the Saudi national side.”
Saudi Arabia is Msdossary’s home country, and he takes great pride in representing his nation on a global level. That patriotism is what initially drove him to the heights of the FIFA18 eWorld Cup, where he claimed his first world title. “To have a World Champion from Saudi is incredible.”
Msdossary, who recently became the first eSports star to sign with Jay-Z’s management agency, Roc Nation Sports, was on course to retain his world title but was just pipped at the post in last year’s final by German-born player, MoAuba.
MoAuba’s victory came as an upset to many. He hadn’t been a favourite heading into the tournament but managed to shock the world by defeating Msdossary 3-2 on aggregate in a two-legged, cross-console final.
“I’m really confident in big tournaments. I’m usually very relaxed while others around me are nervous.”
MoAuba, FIFA19 World Champion
“I was always good at FIFA but there weren't many big adverts about it as an eSport,” he explains to COPA90. “Then I found a tournament in my local area and my friends encouraged me to sign up and I ended up beating the number one player in Germany. I won €500, which was amazing as a young kid, so from there I just Googled where I could play more.”
That initial taste of success helped kick-start MoAuba’s budding career in eSports. Unlike many pro gamers, he manages to stay relaxed in high-pressure situations and doesn’t put too much strain on himself.
“I’m really confident in big tournaments. I’m usually very relaxed while others around me are nervous.” Heading into the FIFA20 Global Series, MoAuba is keen to prove that last year’s win wasn’t just a one-off. “I’m motivated to stay World Champion, to show other people I deserve it. I’m really grinding at home now after my World Title.”
Another player who’s got his season off to a great start is Tekkz. Britain’s hottest FIFA star recently took home the FUT Champions Cup Stage I in Budapest – his third consecutive victory at the tournament.
“I used to just play for fun,” he chuckles to COPA90. “I started playing more and more then realised I was beating pro players – who I didn’t know were pro at the time – then just took things from there really.”
“When you’re losing don’t get annoyed, just know you’re learning.”
Tekkz, FIFA20 FUT Champions Cup Stage I winner
For Tekkz, FIFA is all about enjoying and expressing yourself. “When I first became a pro my whole life revolved around FIFA. I played all the time and never really got out of that atmosphere. These days, I’ve taken a step back and just try and enjoy it more.”
It’s clear that a core belief for all three players is that playing while you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself is far more conducive to a high level of performance than practicing for hours on end while getting increasingly frustrated.
When we asked the pros what advice they’d give to youngsters looking to make it in the world of eSports, all three highlighted the importance of focussing on the small details that make all the difference and, perhaps most crucially, enjoying yourself.
“Work on the small details,” Msdossary advises, “it’s what separates the pros from the rest.”
“When you’re losing don’t get annoyed, just know you’re learning,” Tekkz adds. “Once you’ve played enough you’ll get better and better and eventually be able to beat the guy that was beating you.”
“Watch the pros and learn from them,” MoAuba concludes. “There’s always things you can pick up, like new tactics or skills, which you can then use in your own game.”
The next round of fixtures kicks off on Friday 22nd November at 12:30 CET, where the FUT Champions Cup Stage II will take place and be streamed live on Twitch.
Msdossary, Tekkz and MoAuba will all be there hoping to step up and quality for next July’s FIFA20 eWorld Cup with the trio ranked among the favourites to take home the crown. For now, though, it’s clear that the onus is on practising, relaxing during spare time, and staying focussed ahead of what promises to be another career-defining season of FIFA action.