Will FUT be the Downfall of FIFA Esports?

Kylem “Lyricz” Edwards, Tottenham Hotspur’s ePremier League representative, has been suspended for the rest of the competitive FIFA 19 season for purchasing in-game coins. Lyricz, who also represents UK esports organisation, The Imperial, has now also forfeited his spot to compete at this summer’s eWorld Playoffs.

Lyricz took to Twitter to offer his apology for letting everyone at The Imperial down, particularly as they were the first organisation to ever support him. In addition to that, he extended his gratitude for everyone that had offered their support, but shed light on a current pressing issue within the FIFA professional scene.

You can read his official apology below:

https://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sqsc0s

Most FIFA Ultimate Team players seek to acquire the game’s best players, which of course is natural. This can, however, prove either too costly, or require extreme luck. Either way, it’s an issue that has been long debated and quite simply, EA are asking a lot of their professionals, which will be detrimental to the title’s competitive longevity.

FUT is competitive FIFA’s leading professional game mode, and unlike other esports, is heavily pay-to-win. The game mode allows players to build their dream FIFA teams from scratch. Players can earn FIFA coins by completing matches, but this route often requires extensive game play to be able to purchase some of the top players. That being said, serious players opt to pay for FIFA Points that are used to purchase ‘packs’ and complete Squad Building Challenges to strengthen their Ultimate Team. Millions around the world compete week-in, week-out in the FUT Championships with the hopes of climbing up the FIFA Global Series rankings for their respective consoles.

Players wishing to play at the professional level must spend thousands on FIFA points to obtain the best players for their team, otherwise they stand no chance. What’s more, EA has received heavy criticism for failing to support their best players. Considering the amount of money that EA makes from FUT, it would appear that EA’s true perception of value lies within their profitability from the FIFA community, as opposed to aiding to foster a rich and healthy competitive scene.

As harsh as this may seem, this notion has surfaced year on year; and this year, we may see it come to a boiling point. According to a Reddit post in 2018, the purchase of FIFA Points the previous year reportedly accounted for 11% of all EA sales, including purchases of games, and their own in-game purchases. That’s roughly $500 million spent on Fifa points alone! With this in mind, it would seem even more absurd that ePremier League winner F2Tekkz didn’t receive a cash prize!

For the last two FIFA 19 qualifiers, EA had already added some squad restrictions in an attempt to level the playing field, but the skill gap in FUT is too narrow. FUT arguably requires less skill, and generally speaking, the elite level FIFA standards barely compare to the competitive skill level of CSGO, or League of Legends. On top of this, EA have fostered an environment where the pressure is such, that players are forced to sometimes resort to breaking the rules. Although the suspension is legitimised due to breach of the official rules, this is something FIFA will need to address as it raises questions over the financial requirements of being a pro player.

Belgium have already decided to stop offering FIFA Points due to issues surrounding fairness. Whilst in many regards this is a positive, if the rest of the nations do not follow suit, or this issue is not resolved, then players from Belgium will be at a complete disadvantage.

If the FIFA esports scene is to thrive as other titles currently are, then perhaps FUT is not suitable for professional level. Instead, FIFA’s Pro Clubs promises the opportunity to take FIFA esports to the next level. As previously highlighted, the FIFA competitive level is not as skilled as CSGO, or League of Legends. Why? These games are team based, and as such, require strategy and arguably much more dedication. The ability for teams of two to 11 will sure enhance FIFA’s competitive edge and see the esport equalling the dynamic nature of other esports communities.

The social aspects of the game’s mode lend itself to the attributes needed to thrive in at the current professional level; communication, camaraderie, and most importantly fun! Success at Pro Clubs requires much more skill than the current FUT mode. Players are required to build their players’ attributes up, as opposed to the current “pay-to-win” method. Further to this, considering the increasing focus on the importance of content in esports, surely Pro Clubs would be the strongest contender for fan engagement!

As we look to establish our competitive platform, Pro Clubs will be an important feature. Primarily, it will be one of the leading team based games supported, integral to our team establishment feature. Additionally, it will serve to reward players that are committed to making it to the professional scene, as we begin to see utility, and thus liquidity within the IG token economy. To date, we have distributed approximately 15 million IGG, which equates to £2,000 at this current market value. We are vehemently dedicated to improving the grassroots competitive level ensuring low barriers to access and inclusivity for all.

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