West Ham United’s Esports stars are on the home stretch in the FIFA 21 competitive season, with fourth of five Global Series Qualifier tournaments kicking off over the weekend.
All three of Curtis ‘Papsity’ Poole (on PlayStation4), Alfie ‘AC RedLac’ Calder and Jonas ‘Jonna’ Ghebrehiwot (both Xbox One) have but one goal in mind in the remaining two competitions: accruing Global Series Points.
These points, which effectively translate to global rankings, will be 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 at the end of the season.
From there, each of the Playoff participants will have the chance to reach the very pinnacle of the worldwide FIFA gaming season: the FIFA eWorld Cup, to be held in the summer.
Qualifiers are competitions which offer players a huge helping of Global Series Points, so a solid performance from a West Ham Esports player could go some way to sealing them a Playoff place.
This season’s Qualifiers have been shifted to an online-only format, meaning players face long, challenging days of partaking in consecutive two-legged ties against the continent’s very best players.
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.
Going into the fourth of fifth Qualifiers – with only the early rounds taking place this weekend – RedLac leads the way for the Hammers, sitting 61st in Europe on Xbox with 646 points.
Jonas, meanwhile, has 304 points and is in 176th position, with Paps – on PS4 – having 590 points, enough for him to sit 132nd in the continent on his respective console.
I need to find out what the difference is between this year and last year and just work on it and try to improve
Jonas 'Jonna' Ghebrehiwot
Yet there is all to play for this weekend, with up to 1500 available for the tournament winner on each console – but as many as 300 available for reaching the top 49-64 players, which would coincide with surviving Saturday’s run of games.
“I’m feeling good,” Jonas told whufc.com. “Obviously it’s not been as good of a season as I had last year, but I’m still adjusting to the game and learning the game.
“The game changes a lot. I won the Dutch championship – the eDivisie – last year, which was huge, and I qualified for and went to the FUT Champions Cup in Paris last season as well – that was one of the best things I’ve ever been to.
“That was amazing; to meet players from all around the world, from other countries and just travelling as well, it was really cool. It was really unlucky for me as well that the season stopped because I had a few more tournaments to go to as well and travel to, but obviously it was for a good reason, so I can’t be upset about it.
“I think last year the game suited me better – I’m not sure why, but I need to find out what the difference is between this year and last year and just work on it and try to improve.”
As for this weekend, Jonna only has one thing on his mind – getting as many wins on the board as possible.
“I’m just trying to reach my best,” he summarised. “It’s really difficult to say now what my goals are. I would have said, at the start of the season, to make the Playoffs, but it’s going to be really difficult now.
“It’s still the goal. To reach the Playoffs, I would need a huge performance in one of the last two Qualifiers. I think it’s still possible, but it will be very difficult. I’ll try my best.”
Matches kick off at 12pm GMT on Saturday, flowing into Sunday afternoon.
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