FIFA 19 joins ELEAGUE with the ELEAGUE FUT Champions Cup February, and analyst Mike LaBelle previewed the first North American FIFA Major of 2019.
ELEAGUE is making FIFA 19 history this weekend. ELEAGUE FUT Champions Cup February is not only the first FIFA 19 tournament for the Turner and IMG brand; it’s the first FIFA 19 Major in all of North America this season!
With a new title comes a new roster of talent to ELEAGUE Arena in Atlanta, and App Trigger spoke to analyst Mike LaBelle about joining the team, why you should watch even if you’ve never played EA SPORTS FIFA 19, and how esports are becoming integrated with their real-world counterparts.
Find out more about Mike and the event below, then tune in to the ELEAGUE FUT Champions Cup February starting today at 10 a.m. ET. You can stream the whole weekend on Twitch, B/R Live and ELEAGUE.com.
App Trigger: What interested you about joining ELEAGUE?
Mike LaBelle: I really enjoy talking about FIFA and working with FIFA. I consider myself a specialist in that regard, in terms of having a lot of knowledge about a specific title and being able to share it. Then the team we put together [consists of] a lot of people that I haven’t had the chance to work with that I’ve known for a long time, and some of them I have worked with.
I’ve worked with Goldenboy before, and I’ve actually known him almost a decade. We’ve known each other many, many years. I’m getting to commentate with Matteo [Bonetti] and Matteo’s a very established sports commentator; [it’s] awesome to share the commentator booth with him. Same with Kay [Murray]. I subscribe to Scott [Cole] on Twitch; he used to stream FIFA as his main thing. Alan [Avila]’s in eMLS and is a friend of mine, and Dan [Gaskin] works alongside me quite often as well.
It’s a good group, and I’m pretty excited to do something in the US. A lot of times the [FIFA] events are in Europe, sometimes in Asia or South America, and it’s really nice to do something in North America.
That means ELEAGUE fans may not be as familiar with FIFA 19. Why should they tune in for the FUT Champions Cup if they might be new to the game?
If you’re looking to get into competitive gaming, especially FIFA, a lot of this is mental. Think of playing FIFA as a game of chess. It’s a bunch of moves that leads to a big opportunity or a goal, basically. But it’s a lot of reads that go into that, and the players that are the most successful are the strongest mentally.
When you’re at a professional event, ability-wise, everybody’s pretty close. They’re all on the same page. So it’s the matter of bringing the best package and the best combination, and it’s also being able to adjust to a variety of opponents because people’s gameplay is just not the same. It differentiates every single game depending [on] what they want to do or what they don’t want to do. I have a lot of respect for the guys who are doing so well at these events.
What will you be looking for at this tournament? What’s your approach to analyzing FIFA 19?
I look at gameplay. I look at adjustment with the patches, and it allows me to then make predictions or at least break down what people are going to do. For example, Nicolas [Villalba, aka NICOLAS99FC], for him to do well, he’s going to want to control the pace of the game. He’s going to want to make sure that he has a certain level of structure in his defensive players first.
You need to break down freeze-frames and tips and tutorials, and just provide information and a different viewpoint and different perspective to allow people to really understand and grasp like whoa, this is way more detailed than sitting in my living room and playing with my friends.
You mentioned eMLS, which is Major League Soccer’s official esports series. What does it mean to see traditional sports organizations integrating with esports?
I always felt like there was never a good step by step to create a career in esports or gaming when you went to college unless you knew you wanted to be a game designer.
It’s huge. It gives instant credibility. It makes it much easier with people’s parents, I’m sure, to say “hey, I’m invested in gaming.”
And it also teaches you skills. When you’re working with these clubs or these organizations, you’re learning about marketing. You’re learning about a hierarchy, coordinating someone that you’re working with; you’re coordinating on content, or you’re making deadlines, and I think it’s really great preparation. It’s something that you don’t always get when you’re in college.
I always felt like there was never a good step by step to create a career in esports or gaming when you went to college unless you knew you wanted to be a game designer. Anything else, there weren’t specific fields that really helped build into that. I do feel like you get that experience with an NBA team. Or NHL has a league, or Madden has a league, or FIFA; all these different clubs.
And it gives you that instant credibility. It allows you to become a professional player very quickly. You can have one great year and then before you know it, you’re signed to a team, you potentially have a salary, and you start to integrate into that organization.
What’s one thing audiences should be more aware of about FIFA 19 players, or gamers overall?
It’s important that people understand that competitive gaming’s a job. There’s a lot of pressure involved. It’s a different job as well. A lot of people think you’re just playing from your living room, but if you’re really doing this, you’re going to travel around the country, you’re going to travel around the world. It’s a lot of mental pressure, and it’s definitely become a real sport.
I just remember how many people never saw the vision that I had with gaming progressing. I was like, “Man, gaming’s growing; esports is going to grow with it.” People thought I was crazy for putting off school at times, or when I graduated university, choosing to work on YouTube content. It was something that I wanted to do. I learned how to edit video; I learned a lot about marketing and how to edit algorithms and just really valuable skills … it all started from gaming and competing in gaming.
If you believe it, even if it’s not gaming necessarily, you can do it. And the first thing [is], take action. So many people say hey, I can do what this person’s doing, but they don’t try it. They don’t attempt it, therefore they never know if they really could. Or they don’t know what goes into it either. Sometimes people think when you make a five-minute video that it took five minutes to do and they don’t know that it was a four-hour turnaround between the editing, the filming, linking up cameras.