Manchester City have confirmed the signing of their second e-sports athlete in FIFA this week, with Red Bull’s Ryan Pessoa joining an ever-growing industry at the Etihad Stadium. We sat down with Ryan at the Red Bull Gaming Sphere in London, to learn a little more about the e-sports industry, Ryan’s rise within FIFA e-sports and learn more about his interests in football away from the console.
The e-sports industry in FIFA is relatively new to a lot of people, especially fans of Manchester City. The club’s ambition and resulting success on the field is now being translated onto a different field of play – that of the field on your gaming consoles. City are showing heavy interest in growing their profile in the FIFA e-sports world, by taking on board some of the best talents including 21-year-old Red Bull Gaming athlete Ryan Pessoa.
We joined Ryan in London to talk all things e-sports, Manchester City, Arsenal and City’s venture in the e-sports industry last week. The Red Bull Gaming Sphere in Shoreditch was the venue – the UK’s largest free public e-sports studio. The sphere itself hosts ‘regular tournaments, training sessions for pro gamers and special workshops for amateur gamers to learn how to up their game‘. The Red Bull Gaming Sphere is open to the public on the ‘Free For All’ days – where gamers can drop by and play any game they wish for free!
Ryan, thanks for joining us and firstly, welcome to Manchester City e-sports team! What are your first thoughts on the move?
“I’m proud to be representing Manchester City. Obviously one of the biggest clubs in the world and I’d say the biggest club in the Premier League, but you never know, we’ll see at the end of the season. It’s an honour to represent them and I feel their ambition in e-sports is massive – it transitions from their ambitions on the actual football field.”
For many players in the professional on-the-field game, moving to Manchester City can be the career defining move, the pinnacle of years of hard work. What has your journey been like up until this point?
“I entered in FIFA 17 and it was kind of unexpected – I didn’t really plan to qualify. A good accident I guess. I qualified for an event in Munich, Germany – an event I won!
Ever since then I’ve qualified for Grand Finals, E-Premier League, Club World Cups a few times. I feel like I’ve represented myself pretty well for the past few seasons. In FIFA 20 I’m looking to win another few competitions.”
This obviously is a big move from a personal point of view for yourself, but what are your aims in FIFA e-sports, and what would you like to achieve?
“Boost my profile – start producing more content on YouTube, streaming services, social media. Obviously win championships this year, which is a main goal for me and the same for the Club World Cup. Representing Manchester City in the e-Premier League is a massive honour as well. Performing on the highest stage is, and always has been my main goal since I started.”
You’ll be Manchester City’s second official signing in the e-sports industry after Shaun “Shellzz” Springette. What do you know about him and how do you view him as a competitor in the industry?
“He’s an unbelievable player and person. We teamed up last year actually, as I competed for Manchester City e-sports team at the club World Cup. We have a good partnership on and off the pitch if you like, we’re good friends.”
For many Manchester City fans, the e-sports industry in general is very new. Can you give the fans a brief overview as to what the industry is and what it involves?
“I can give you specifics on FIFA E-Sports, and I now represent Manchester City’s E-Sports team in FIFA. We compete worldwide to enter tournaments that have different prize pools, different rewards.
You can play Champions Cup online against other opponents that are ranked. You play against some of the top 100 in the world to qualify for events, accumulate points across the season to qualify for the Grand Finals – a massive competition that is held year in year out.”
The ambition from the club in the e-sports industry hasn’t really been translated explicitly across to the fanbase, but in your view, what are the club’s ambitions within the industry?
“It’s difficult to gain viewership and quality in e-sports. Having the e-Premier League and granting opportunities to casual players that can get involved in e-Premier League if they wanted to. You can simply play FIFA and enter the tournament, you don’t necessarily have to be a pro, but people need to be aware that you will be playing pros if you make it to the later rounds.
Having all these clubs involved in the e-premier league is massive, and a lot of premier league clubs have signed actual players for their clubs. I feel like that is a stepping stone for City and e-sports.”
E-sports is an ever-growing industry. We’ve seen the remarkable viewership in different games such as Fortnite, but what is the potential for e-sports in FIFA?
“I would say the potential in FIFA specifically is massive because FIFA is obviously based off football. As long as there is that sort of relationship between the two, people who aren’t big on their e-sports can delve into this through their love of football. If FIFA E-sports adds more people to it, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4, that will increase the viewership, and have people supporting their team.”
Since it’s release in September, FIFA 20 has caused quite a stir on social media for a multitude of reasons. But what have you made of the latest edition in the FIFA franchise?
“If you compare it to FIFA 19, I think it’s so much better. Competitively, FIFA 19 was a bit ‘arcade-like’ – certain mechanics in the game catered towards people who had that luck element on their side.
FIFA 20, you have to be focused 100% of the time – any slip of concentration and you’re going to get punished. I don’t know if that’s good or a bad thing but, it’s going to be a learning curve. I’m looking forward towards learning the new mechanics, the different styles of play throughout the year.“
For some people, their preference if offline and have a passion for career mode. With you focusing on a career in the online competitive FIFA, when was the last time you actually played offline?
“I actually can’t remember the last time I’ve played offline. Apart from playing against journalists, I can’t remember the last time I played kick-off. I haven’t played career mode since FIFA 15.”
For those that aren’t as good as yourself on the game, I’m more speaking about myself, what would your go-to or number one tip be for FIFA 20?
“I would say just take your time. Some people always hold the sprint button, I never hold it. The only time I’ll use it is if I’m running down the wing, or defending someone down the wing. Other than that, I’ll just take my time and not drag defenders out of position. Those two are the most important.”
Let’s get a little more personal then. Who do you support?
“I’m an Arsenal fan. I despise [Manchester] United, even Liverpool – I hate them. Just because growing up, all my friends were Liverpool and United fans, so the rivalry between them hasn’t been great.”
Your hatred for both of those clubs will certainly be music to the ears of Manchester City fans, but what are your thoughts on our club?
“I think they’ve got a good squad, a strong team. I like [Raheem] Sterling, I’m a big fan of Sterling. Aguero, De Bruyne, both Silva’s – I think they’ve got a good squad. Hopefully they win the league over Liverpool. I do think Liverpool will slip up, again. Last year I genuinely thought Liverpool would win it.”
As with most of the clubs outside of the top two of last season, there seems to be an ever-growing gap. But what are your thoughts on the comparison between Manchester City and Arsenal?
“Shocking. I don’t want to see that game [City vs Arsenal]. The difference in quality between City and Arsenal is light and day. City without Laporte has been a problem, you’re missing Fernandinho in midfield with him dropping into centre-back. You’re missing his presence in midfield. Your attack is ridiculous. Arsenal’s defence for example is the worst.”
Unai Emery may be living on borrowed time at the Emirates Stadium, and appears to have lost the fans too. What are your thoughts on the Arsenal boss?
“100% gone. I feel like the general consensus amongst Arsenal fans is that he isn’t made for the job. His style of play is too pragmatic. That isn’t what Arsenal fans want.”
We’d like to thank Red Bull for having us at their Gaming Sphere in London this week. For more information on the venue and how you can get involved for free, take a look via clicking on the photo above!