- FIFA eClub World Cup to take place in Milan from 7-9 February
- Richard Buckley & Brandon Smith run the rule ahead of the action
- Previews: Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D
Familiar voices will be bringing you coverage of the FIFA eClub World Cup 2020™ from Milan on 7-9 February.
As the planet’s best club-based teams descend on the fabled Italian city, Richard Buckley and Brandon Smith will once again be bringing the action to life with their dulcet tones and insightful FIFA eSports commentary, alongside other resident commentators Mark 'Onset' Hatcher and Dan Gaskin.
Ahead of the action-packed three days, which will be streamed right here on FIFA.com and FIFA.gg among other places, we caught up with Buckley and Smith who lent us their vast expertise ahead of hotly anticipated tournament.
FIFA.com: What do you make of the FIFA eClub World Cup going to Milan for the first time?
Richard Buckley: We’ve had the eClub World Cup in London and Paris. Now, we’re going to Milan. It’s a great footballing city and it’s great for the tournament to take a step forward and head to a new place.
Brandon Smith: We’ve been lucky enough to be a part of previous eClub World Cups and it’s always refreshing to see a new city. It’ll be our first time going to Italy for a FIFA eSports event, I’m really looking forward to it.
There’s three Italian teams at the Club World Cup: Mkers, Team Qlash and AS Roma. Do you think home advantage can influence them at a tournament like this?
Richard Buckley: I think it can, but if you look at the overall competition level at the eClub World Cup this year, it’s probably the toughest 2v2 tournament we’ve ever had alongside the FIFA eNations Cup. Whoever wins this tournament, whether it be an Italian team or otherwise, it will be a hard-fought victory when you consider the talent on show.
Brandon Smith: For a while now there’s been a call-out for countries like Spain and Italy to up their ante when it comes to competitive FIFA, especially when you’ve got the likes of France, Germany and England dominating the scene. Mkers, Team Qlash and AS Roma have such a fantastic opportunity in front of them. Why can’t they go out and pull out all the stops?
There’s some big names that will be competing at the eClub World Cup. Who are your pre-tournament favourites and why?
Richard Buckley: You have to look at Fnatic. ‘Tom’ finished as the second-best PlayStation player at the FUT Champions Cup Stage III in Atlanta and he’ll be playing alongside Tekkz, one of the best players in the world right now. I also think FaZe Clan are looking good and will have a point to prove with ‘Tass’.
A team that perhaps not many are talking about - but they should be mentioned among the favourites - are Team Qlash. ‘DrNightWatch’ and 'QLASH_Crazy’ are going to cause some damage and the former has a lot to play for right now. A victory at the eClub World Cup could really see ‘DrNightWatch’ rise up the leaderboard.
Brandon Smith: If you look across the board, we’ve got so many big names involved at this tournament – from 'HugeGorilla' to 'Tekkz' – and huge teams like Manchester City, who have 'Shellz' and 'Ryan'.
The teams in Group A stand out for me. It’s an exciting group when you’ve got NEO in there, Hashtag United, FaZe Clan, Infinity, Nordavind and Olympique Lyonnais. Out of the four groups, Group A looks the tastiest to me.
We saw last year with Dijon reaching the final that there can be a wildcard that goes far at the tournament. Of the teams this year, which underdog can cause the biggest shock?
Richard Buckley: I fancy Nordavind. I recently saw both 'NVD_Hyper' and 'NVD Arkoo' in Norway at the eSerien and they look really good right now. I think they can get out of Group A and cause a few upsets in Milan.
Brandon Smith: I’m going to say Ellevens. They were only founded a few months ago but they’ve got 'EthxnH' who had a breakout tournament at the FUT Champions Cup in Atlanta. They’ve also got 'PResende7', who we know very well from various Grand Finals and has competed in many big tournaments around the world.
The 2v2 will feature prominently at this tournament. What do you find most appealing about that format?
Richard Buckley: I love the 2v2 format just for the simple fact that, often with FIFA eSports, you’re playing on your own – and you take the blame for yourself. With 2v2, there has to be communication, there has to be tactics and pre-determined moves ahead of the tournament.
It’s a different dynamic. You’ve got to deal with your team-mate if you’re not playing well – how do you get over that? If you are playing well, how do you stay switched on and don’t get complacent? I love the internal struggle of the 2v2, more so off the pitch rather than on the pitch itself. I think it’s fascinating.
Brandon Smith: The 2v2 format works very well because of how little we see it – we only see it at two events across the year: the eNations Cup and the eClub World Cup. If we saw it at every tournament, it would lose its magic.
I like that you’ve got that team factor, you get huge celebrations and huge match moments that make the broadcast super fun. We saw it at the eNations Cup last year with ‘Tuga’ and ‘RastaArtur’ for Portugal. I can’t wait to see even more of those reactions in Milan.