Ready. Set. Unleashed ?⚒️ pic.twitter.com/TtA2HEO0Gb— West Ham Esports (@WestHamEsports) April 10, 2021
West Ham United’s three professional FIFA players are preparing to take on the Global Series Qualifier event of the 2020/21 season.
Taking place over the course of Saturday and Sunday afternoon, Curtis ‘Papsity’ Poole (on PlayStation4), Alfie ‘AC RedLac’ Calder and Jonas ‘Jonna’ Ghebrehiwot (both Xbox One) will all be hoping to pick up enough Global Series Points to qualify for the end-of-season Regional Playoffs.
Global Series points, which effectively translate to rankings, are used – in conjunction with performances in other competitive elements of the game – to decide the top 64 European PS4 and Xbox players, who will qualify for the Playoffs and potentially, from there, the FIFA eWorld Cup in the summer.
Best-placed to reach the Playoffs is 18-year-old Alfie ‘AC RedLac’ Calder who, in his second season as an Esports professional and first in Claret and Blue, currently sits in 75th place in the European Xbox rankings, having attained 732 points so far – just 48 off the 64th-ranked player.
Teammates Jonna (in 200th place on the same console with 329 points) and Papsity (116th on PS4, with 800 points – the player in 64th has 1080) also have it all to play for.
As each Qualifier attracts such a large number of participants, there are up to 1500 points available for the winner on each console – but, should a player reach the last 33-48 players, they can pick up 360 points; or 300 for the top 49-64; or 240 for 65-96th place.
RedLac told whufc.com: “I’m feeling good ahead of the Qualifier this weekend. It’s the last tournament of the year so hopefully I can do well.
“I’m feeling good. I haven’t played much FIFA this week – I’ve played about 20 games I think. Usually, I play about ten a day, but I’ve gone for a more relaxed approach on purpose and enjoyed myself during the week to try and keep the pressure off, so that on the day I can just play my game.
“I plan to play a mature game. I need to keep possession and switch to a back five when I’m winning, but when I’m drawing or losing, I’ll go to a 4-3-1-2 and literally just attack, play smart, get a few goals. Then, when we go ahead, we can go into the five back in the late stages.”
Like many events, the FIFA 21 global competitive scene has been forced to make significant changes for the 2020/21 season, with a complete shift to online-only tournaments contributing to some unpredictable results.
Only a handful of names have performed well consistently throughout the season, with several notable players struggling – and so there is plenty of encouragement to be drawn from such an equalising playing field.
Whereas in previous years, Global Series majors have taken place in person at locations around the world, this season’s Qualifiers have been played remotely as straight knockout competitions involving, at times, over 1,000 active players.
This means that players can face long, challenging days of partaking in back-to-back two-legged ties against the continent’s very best FIFA talent – with maintaining focus the absolute key.
It’s been a hard year but I’ll give it my all. Hopefully I can finish strongly in the last Qualifier and we’ll make the FGS Playoffs
Alfie 'AC RedLac' Calder
Add in a double elimination element – where players can only afford to lose twice on aggregate before they bow out of the Qualifier – and the pressure is certainly on.
RedLac explained: “I think it’s a mix of factors because obviously the aim normally is to make an event by reaching the top 16 in Europe, and there you are – you’re at the events in different countries around Europe.
“This season, the motivation is different. The bar for qualifying for the Playoffs is a lot lower this season, but this year it’s a combined total: every event matters, every single point you can get, so the combined results like top 16, top 32, top 64… it all adds up. To get to the Playoffs, I need to reach at least the top 64.
“The new format isn’t as good for us as players because, whereas there is a ‘Losers’ bracket, it’s done as a straight knockout, whereas before there was a Swiss-style round where you had more chances to lose, but would also play more games.
“It’s been a hard year but I’ll give it my all. Hopefully I can finish strongly in the last Qualifier and we’ll make the FGS Playoffs. Come on you Irons!”
Should RedLac, Jonna or Papsity reach the Qualifier 5 live finals, these will be broadcast across official FIFA channels the weekend of Saturday 24/Sunday 25 April.
The initial rounds of the competition kick off at 12pm GMT on Saturday 10 April, flowing into Sunday afternoon.
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