- Interview with Dutch eFootball legend Koen Weijland
- The former Ajax eSports player is now a television host, YouTuber and author
- "I wanted to be one of the world's best players"
Koen Weijland started his eFootball career in 2010 by playing in local tournaments and went on to win the national championship that same year before becoming the first eSports player to be signed by Ajax a few years later. "I wanted to be one of the world's best players," he told FIFA.com. "I was so proud because I've been an Ajax fan ever since I was a child, so it was a dream come true to become part of this club. Ajax helped me to keep improving."
In 2017 Weijland represented Ajax at the inaugural FIFA Interactive Club World Cup, now known as the FIFA eClub World Cup. "It's one of the best memories I have of my time at Ajax," he said. "I flew to London from Thailand, where I was on a holiday I had planned for months, and I was extremely motivated to play there."
During last season's EA Sports play-offs, the Dutchman switched from playing to forming part of the event's broadcasting team. "I only just missed out on qualifying but I still wanted to be involved in the tournament because it was one of the biggest eSports competitions in Amsterdam for several years," Weijland said. "I was very grateful and proud to be part of the team."
As was the case with Chu Morah, who outlined his adaptation to a new role in an interview with FIFA.com, Weijland also went through a process of adjustment to his new task: "Shortly before it starts you realise just how many people are watching you, so you're always a bit nervous initially. But you get better over time and become a lot more comfortable in front of the camera."
In addition to his move into broadcasting, Weijland decided to write a book about his life as an eFootball player: "It's called 'Strijder', which means 'fighter', because that's the attitude I have. You have to keep fighting, even when you lose. It wasn't actually my idea to write a book to start with; the publisher approached me and motivated me to write my story as a book."
Koen Weijland on the eFootball scene and the new season
As one of the most well-known faces in eFootball in the Netherlands, Weijland has been an important and passionate ambassador of the gaming scene in his homeland for many years. "I'm always fascinated by the way some players manage to perform to a consistently high level every year in a game played by so many people," he said, before analysing the Dutch mentality: "We're very passionate and have a lot of self-confidence. A good of example of that is Johan Cruyff. We just love the sport and the game. That's what makes the scene here so special."
Over the years Weijland has played against some of the best gamers in the world, with a few in particular leaving a lasting memory: "I admired Grannec for how calm he was; Francisco Cruz for the fact he won a title aged 17 and Mike La Belle for his passion for eFootball. And obviously I have to mention Spencer Ealing. Even when he doesn't win it still feels like he was the best player."
Two clubs and two players in particular have stood out for Weijland this season: "I've been very impressed with the performances of 'F2Tekkz' and August Rosenmeier so far. On top of that, the Ajax and AS Roma teams look very interesting."
As for his own plans for the current campaign, the 26-year-old said: "I'd love to be part of the broadcasting team again. I'll also represent eFootball in the Netherlands and will carry on with my YouTube channel and my own webshow."