Wednesday 06 March 2019, 11:21

The secrets of eSports coaching success

  • We take a closer look at FIFA eSports coaches

  • Five experts give their take on the role

  • Role can cover everything from cheerleading to producing dossiers on opponents

If you’re a seasoned fan of FIFA eSports, you won’t have failed to notice a figure hovering in the background for many players.

Often first to lead the celebrations and always on hand with some advice whispered into the ear of the star in the hot seat, FIFA coaches are part and parcel of the tournament experience.

However, from current professionals to specialist coaches, there are many different approaches to the role, so we spoke to five who featured at the FIFA eClub World Cup 2019 to get their take.

Coach with Wolverhampton Wanderers

“It’s really important to help them regarding their mentality. They’re young fellas and after a shaky game they need someone who’s experienced to explain what they need to do and relax. They’ve perhaps never been around the cameras and having people watching them like this.

“I play around 40-45 games a week, sometimes more than them! I do it to get experience of different styles compared to Brazil and South America. In Europe, for example, they have a different style of crossing, so I look to gain this experience and pass it on to them. They have skills and natural talent, so we just look to help them with ways to organise their defence and attacks.

“It’s the same mentality [as the football club]. I also get the guys to the gym a couple of times a week, they have to avoid junk food and live a healthy life, just like a professional player.”

FIFA pro with Vitality, coaching for Dijon FCO

“It’s a lot of the mental side of things. I’m not going to teach them to play FIFA, they know what they’re doing. Sometimes I provide some advice about the likes of formations, but the major part is mental.

“Especially in this team format, there’s so much emotion, you have players screaming [when a goal is scored], so you have to feel comfortable. I think it’s very important to bring that as a coach. When I’m playing I like to have someone who knows the game perfectly so I guess for them it’s cool to have a player filling that role as a coach, too.”

Coach with Ajax, co-founder of eCV eSports

“I want to make a gameplan for them, so it’s very important that I understand how they need to play, so I analyse every opponent. I look into how an opponent builds up, how they attack, how they use skill moves, how they shoot, things like that. Their own strengths are very important, but it’s good to know how the likes of Tekkz and Nicolas are playing.

“Every single week they’ve got a schedule from me and they have to provide all the statistics from their games. I analyse them and then I provide a gameplan for the next week. That’s how we work.

“When you score a key goal it’s important to be aware and press pause, too, so the guys can have a short break, have a good rest and then get their focus again.”

Coach with Trick eSports

“You have the psychological aspect, trying to calm them down and get them focused – that’s very important. Then, to know about the game, have played it yourself and know football in general, so having that understanding of the mechanics in football and FIFA is also important.

“I think I need to talk a bit less sometimes, as it can be distracting! It’s about calming them down. It’s about knowing your players and telling them the right way to go about things. It’s about reminding them that they can do this because they qualified, and they deserve to be here.

“A player has to be focused on one second at a time, while I can see the whole picture. I can maybe direct them into the right section when they have to think about one second at a time.”

FIFA pro for AZ Alkmaar, coaching for eCV eSports

“They can play, they managed to qualify, so they won’t listen to you if you say ‘pass the ball here’ or anything like that, it’s more about providing positive vibes. I’m just there to see the situations and help them through it.

“Players are really focused on the slightest pixels, whereas I’m sat in the back and can say ‘this what you did wrong, this is what you did well’. It’s giving the bigger picture.”