In the middle of a suburb in northeastern London is a white three-story townhouse, apparently like any other on the street. However, by the time you cross the threshold you are greeted by an AS Roma doormat and a multitude of Fnatic and AS Roma flags. Unlike the other houses on this street, it is inhabited by the AS Roma Fnatic FIFA team, the FIFA team of the main sports organization.
Last week, AS Roma Fnatic players moved from their respective countries to the five modern countries. One bedroom house (worth a cool £ 700k / $ 1m / AU $ 1.3m), which includes a Jacuzzi, a high-end game shed for training and broadcasting, pool table and widescreen TV. We caught up with the players about a group game, to see how it is to live and work with their teammates and compete at a professional level.
AS Roma Fnatic is a division of Fnatic, one of the leading esports organizations in the world. Mounted last year, but originally launched two years ago, the current list consists of four players: Rannerz from Ireland, Damie from Poland, Zimme from Sweden and Insa (who is the only one who does not live in the house) from Italy. In addition, the team manager, Colin (a.k.a Cojo), who is a native of the United States, and coach Enzo, from France, also live in the house.
So it's quite cozy.
All players are between 20 and 30 years old and previously flew from their countries of origin to attend competitions. Fnatic management decided that moving all the equipment to a house would allow them to concentrate on training, transmitting and competing in the run-up to the launch of FIFA 19.
Despite living in the same house and playing for the same team , each player had a different route to AS Roma Fnatic.
Manager Colin was previously a college student in Kansas, but he had always been a football fan and a great player. His introduction to the competitive scene was with Halo 3, but he later became involved with the creation of FIFA content, which led him to run and organize the FIFA Pro League. During this time, Colin met many professional players, but quickly realized that there were not many e-sports managers.
"During all this time, I was thinking to myself: none of these players has agents," he tells me. "All these clubs were picking up these players but there was no one to represent them, to make sure they were getting good deals and to make sure that their contracts were not exploiting them, which unfortunately in e-sports is very common."
Colin began the process of meeting players to manage, collecting between 10 and 12 initially. Then came the difficult part: finding a soccer club to back them up. After sending hundreds of emails to several clubs, one of the answers came from Rome, based in Italy, which had an existing relationship with Fnatic. After both parties agreed to a collaboration, As Roma Fnatic was born.
"I feel like we've grown stronger since then," says Colin. "In the past, almost two years now, I've expanded and now I manage the Rocket League and Street Fighter teams, it's been a long road."
In addition, uniting players under one roof was also a creation of Colin, with management and players expecting 2019 to be a great year for the team.
"First he put the idea of a house ten months ago," explains Colin. "At that time, the team was not at a point where we felt it was necessarily time to get a house. competitive like us, I wanted to be. "
"I think we now have a team we trust a lot, so we wanted to put the guys in the best possible position to be successful this year, and with other team houses like DOTA and League of Legends, we see positive results , so we thought we would take that strategy to FIFA. "
While Colin leads the team, investigates the signings and keeps everyone on track, it is Enzo Coach, who micromanage the game strategy.
Enzo started training esports in his home country of France test at the age of 14 years. However, realizing that he was too young to do so, he instead went on to coach youth soccer for a few years.
His return to professional sports coaching came with FIFA 17 when, as a free agent, he applied to become an AS Roma Fnatic analyst (who admitted to writing badly on his application). Although Enzo trains the team full time, he still studies at a university in France and is in his third year in sports administration. Fortunately, his work with the team is a valid excuse to miss school.
Enzo has three players for Coach in the house: Rannerz, Damie and Zimme. The Swedish Zimme had previously played for professional teams before, and even rejected Rome two years ago, but when his contract with the esports team expired, Red Reserve decided it was time to make the switch.
born in Poland Damie, on the other hand, admits that "he came to FIFA out of nothing". Damie did not play in FIFA professionally until Fut Champions, a competitive game mode introduced in FIFA 17, became a feature. At the same time, Damie moved to London with his family, then enrolled in a university until he started playing FIFA 17 with a view to becoming a professional sports player.
Fortunately, time sank into FIFA 17 was worth it, and Damie took third place in his first professional event.
"Since then, I was like … I really enjoy playing with FIFA, so this is my moment," Damie explained. "When FIFA 18 appeared, everything changed, I played very well, I knew that people were starting to know me as a player, it was almost perfect all year, it's like a perfect story: I just came out of nowhere."
In addition to his FIFA experience, Damie is also close to the highest rank in League of Legends and Counter-Strike. When we asked him why he was not professional in any of those games, his answer was simple: "I was not good enough".
Similarly to Damie, Rannerz, from Ireland, did not start playing FIFA 17. until FUT Champions was announced. However, unlike Damie, Rannerz played for a year and did not qualify for any event. It was only with the release of FIFA 18 that Rannerz hit, achieving 38 victories and a placement of the top 25 in the leaderboards within the first week of release. He was then recruited into the Gfinity tournament and signed an appropriate contract with AS Roma Fnatic.
Five young players who move to a house in a foreign country may seem like a recipe for disaster, but it is Colin manager's responsibility to keep the players' eyes on the prize. He has designed a difficult daily schedule for players, which will be implemented when FIFA 19 is launched. The schedule varies week by week, but essentially sets up four-hour blocks that tell the boys when they should practice or broadcast.
Other blocks include coaching sessions with Enzo, in which they analyze concepts, training and preparation of opponents, Gfinity review sessions, which see the team breaking down the positive and negative aspects of the previous week, tournament preparation sessions and media trips.
But not everything is work. Once a week, Colin schedules a team-building activity for players to do inside and outside the home. As the team is still fairly new in England, activities include visits to Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and even Stonehenge, while last week's activity included watching an episode of Manchester City's All or Nothing series.
It's not a typical 9-5 and many of the players will be late to accommodate their fans worldwide, which means that scheduled activities do not start until after noon.
"It's not the kind of work you get up at 9 a.m.," Colin tells me. "It's because of the way our sleep schedules are and because some of the best transmission hours are a bit later."
As expected, there are rules that come with an arrangement like this. One is that none of the players can broadcast in their rooms after 11:00 p.m. in case it bothers your neighbors. Another is that, while family and friends can visit London and the house, people can not stay because there is not enough space. However, members are allowed to stay for a couple of days, as long as they do not interrupt the schedule.
So how does Colin prevent everyone from getting on their nerves?
"That's what team building is for, because it centralises those activities," he explains. "I think all these guys get along, and that was a big part of the team's union as well, I got guys who had personalities that fit, as well as matching skills that matched our ambitions."
"I've had teams before. , that had internal conflicts and we had to change the list or take drastic measures to calculate the list, but I would not have gotten this house if I had one of those lists where I was sure they would get along and treat this as a job. "
" These guys understand that this is their job, their livelihood and they are paid a salary. We are paying for this house every month, not for them to spend time and have fun, but because we believe it will help them become better players. "
Moving up and out
In addition to the general struggles that come with it transfer of five young people to a house together, there is also the reality that each one moved from their country of origin to a completely new place.
"For me it was quite difficult to be honest," Zimme tells us. because it's different. But then I decided that I really wanted to move because I wanted to compete at a high level. "And I think I can really improve from here."
I asked Colin how he, as a manager, deals with instances like Zimme's. In this case, the couple spoke face-to-face about Zimme's concerns, and Zimme also spoke with the head of Fnatic, Patrik Sättermon, who is also a former player born in Sweden and lives in London.
The nostalgia impacted us, taking into account the pressure exerted by these young people, and we wonder how much is being done for their mental health along with their physical well-being.
"We are actively looking for things in psychology at this time because we have used them in the past for different teams, but we have never used one specifically for FIFA," Colin tells us when asked if they have a team psychologist.
"The same thing on the nutrition side, part of your schedule is going to the gym twice a week, mandatory, the third time is optional, but there are fixed times for those, it's at least six hours a week In the gym, there are many different aspects in which we can still improve and work. "
In cases of extreme nostalgia, players can return to their homes as long as there is no event.
"As long as you are fulfilling your obligations every month with regard to transmission and practice, then I am not, as a dictator, because I believe that your mental health is as important as your physical and competitive health", Colin explains, "I think sometimes it's just nice to go home for a few days."
In addition, Colin has reserved three to four weeks during the holiday season for players to return home and spend time with their families to "mentally reset". But until then, Colin is a surrogate mother, cooking for her team three days a week, mainly Mexican food.
FIFA 19 will bring many changes to the game, which will cause the team to have to change its strategies and gameplay to adapt to the new goal. But there's not much to adjust, the Gfinity tournament is only a month away, which gives the team little time to adjust.
But playing FIFA on a competitive level has ruined your love for the beautiful game? Apparently not.
"With FIFA 19, I think it will be fun because it's the new game," explains Colin. "Speaking for myself, we're in FIFA for a reason, we love the game and we love it, they care about the game, even when it's not in its best state and when it's in its best state."
"I think Many of these guys see this as a career that they can take long term, so there has to be something like passion there. "
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