FIFA 18. The closest many players get to taking to the turf of the Premier League and scoring goals against the best players in the world. The realism of the game is about to be cranked up a notch as the Gfinity Elite Series kicks off in London.
Rocket League and Street Fighter V have been Elite Series staples for the past two seasons, but FIFA 18 joins the ranks for season three, and it looks set to be the biggest of them all. Gfinity has become the first esports company to secure an EA Sports FIFA 18 Global Series license, meaning the winner of the Elite Series will be guaranteed a spot at the FIFA eWorld Cup, the grandest competition of the year. Last year, Spencer ‘Gorilla’ Ealing walked away with £156,000 for striking gold at the eWorld Cup.
New for 2018
The addition of FIFA 18 to the Elite Series brings new teams to the Gfinity set-up. Joining exceL, Team Envy, Method and Epsilon are the heavyweights of Fnatic, Vitality, Hashtag United, Nordavind and UNILAD Esports.
Brian Savary of Vitality said: “I’m looking forward to doing well at the Elite Series. Vitality is a French organisation, but we don’t just want to be highly regarded in France, we want to be international. For us it is great to present out skills with Gfinity.”
The contest kicks off on Friday, March 9 at the Gfinity Arena in London, with the mouth-watering prospect of world number one Hashtag Ryan of Hashtag United, World Champion Gorilla of UNILAD and two-time Gfinity Champion Brian of Vitality all doing battle over the coming eight weeks.
Challenging the best
RealSport challenged Vitality captain Brian Savary at Loading Bar in London
Brian spoke of his journey into professional gaming: “I’ve been playing FIFA professionally for three years now, and I got into it completely randomly. I was playing it just like everybody else and a friend asked why don’t I enter a tournament. I did well, and tournament after tournament I gained experience and from that I just became professional. When I was young, never did I think I would be a professional FIFA player.”
RealSport took on both Brian and Hashtag Ryan in games of FIFA 18, and pushed the professionals close, drawing 1-1 with Hashtag Ryan (Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich) before falling 0-1 to Frenchman Brian (PSG vs. Marseille).
A change in mentality
These players may enjoy what they do to some extent, but the level of enjoyment has changed somewhat. Brian said: “Playing the game now, I still have fun but it’s a bit more strenuous. When I play FUT Champions (160 games a month to qualify for the Ultimate Team Championship Series) at the weekend, it’s not for fun, I have to do well. It may not be as fun as it was before, but I still have a lot of pleasure playing FIFA now.”
Lastly, Brian gave his tips for FIFA players looking to improve: “In terms of formation, I always go for a 4-2-3-1. Be sure to improve your defence, as anyone can score goals, but not everyone knows how to be strong at the back.”
With the expansion to ten teams from eight, the format moves to a group stage & knockout competition for season three of the Elite Series. The two groups of five teams are the same across the three games (FIFA 18, Rocket League & Street Fighter V) with the top of each group going straight through to the semifinals. Second and third place across the two groups then head to the quarters, with the winners from those matches facing the group winners in the semis, with the final taking place on the weekend commencing May 4.