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FIFA eWorld Cup

Grand Final commentators turning a hobby into a career

(FIFA.com)
Brandon Smith and Richard Buckley
© Getty Images
  • "We want to become the face of FIFA eSports"
  • Tips on how to become a FIFA eSports commentator, plus an insight into the Global Series 2019
  • Brandon Smith and Richard Buckley speak to FIFA.com

Since their first appearance at the FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Final in Berlin 2017, Brandon Smith and Richard Buckley have gone on to establish themselves on the FIFA eSports scene and commentate on a number of tournaments, including the FIWC Grand Final 2017 and the FIFA eWorld Cup Grand Final 2018.

We sat down with the two of them to discuss how they got into the FIFA eSports scene and talk more generally about the Global Series 2019.

FIFA.com: How did you get involved with FIFA eSports?
Brandon: Richard and I are studying at the same university, doing the same course. After a few weeks at uni, I was asked if I would commentate on a FIFA online league on Twitch. Most of the time there were only between 3-10 people who followed it, but it was a very valuable initial experience. The season went on for 12 months and by the time it was halfway through, I couldn’t carry on commentating all alone on the matches that went for three hours in a row. So I asked Richard if he could help me. That worked out great right from the off, and through the success that we had at the Commentators Cup, we got to be involved in the FUT Championship Final in Berlin. And just over a year on from that, we got to commentate live at The O2.

Richard: After the event in Berlin, we were asked if we’d like to commentate on one of the regional finals of the FIWC in Munich. We worked on 4-5 days of the event there which was a great experience and proved to us that we had the desire – and the ability – to carry on commentating.

What was it like at the FUT Championship Final 2017 in Berlin – your first event?
Richard: It might sound a bit of a cliché, but seeing famous faces like ’SpencerFC’, Jimmy Conrad and Co live was really something. We weren’t there to take photos though – we were there to work, and I think that we ended up making a good impression.

Brandon: I had already attended a few FIFA eSports tournaments and had always wondered how I could become a part of them. After Berlin, we got so many messages and such positive feedback.

How have your lives been changed by the FIFA eWorld Cup and FIFA eSports?
Brandon: At the beginning we were total unknowns, but now we enjoy a lot of recognition within the community and talk to a lot of the media, including the BBC, Sky Sports and so on. We are trying to be the face of FIFA eSports. For me personally, travelling around is a privilege – whether it’s to the FeWC Regional Finals in Qatar and Los Angeles or any of the many other cities in Europe that hosted the Global Series and the Grand Finals last year. It’s turned a hobby into a possible career.

Richard: I also don’t see it as a conventional job. I myself have been playing EA Sports FIFA for around 12-14 years and the chance to turn our hobby into a profession is one that we are trying to make the very most of for the future.

Have you had support from your friends and family right from the outset?
Brandon: My parents have always been right behind me. Last month, my father asked me: "What do you want to do after uni? How are you going to earn a living?" and I said: "I’m going to do (FIFA eSports), Dad." Particularly after seeing the event in London, they understand how big it all is.

Richard: My family have always supported me as well, but you often hear criticism from other people. But since the final was broadcast on Sky and 29 million people watched it online, with USD 250,000 in prize money for the winner, people are beginning to sit up and take notice.

When you compare your first event in Berlin with the final this year, what differences do you see? Do you still get nervous at all when you are commentating?
Brandon: As soon as we have the headset on, it’s as if we’re commentating on a minor tournament – we just focus on the game. You don’t think about the fact that millions of people are listening to you. We do still look back to how we were at the beginning, in Berlin for example, and keep trying to improve. Commentating on the return leg in this year’s Final Showdown was something special for us.

Richard: In Berlin we were still relatively nervous and I was rather quiet and shy. Now though, 14 months on, we have a lot more self-confidence and we also get all the information that we need. That’s another useful tip – always prepare the best you can.

What tips would you give to someone who also wanted to become a FIFA commentator?
Brandon: Commentate as much as possible, even on matches that have already taken place. Getting experience and contacts within the community and becoming part of the scene are crucial. And last but not least take any opportunities that come along and make the best of them.

Richard: People also ask us why we don’t commentate on other eSports games. You have to commit to a game and we are fully committed to FIFA. I’d advise anyone to stick with the game that fascinated them the most since that comes out in the quality of the commentators.

What are you looking forward to the most about next season?
Brandon: More tournaments and more leagues as well, and football clubs that will hopefully become part of the scene next year. We have plenty on our wish-lists, but actually what we are really hoping for is simply that things head in the same direction as last year.

Richard: Nothing to add, I totally agree. 2019 could be the year when more and more teams and eSports organisations discover FIFA eSports. Schalke, Manchester City, Roma and the likes have already made that step.

Who could be the star of 2019?
Richard: It could be Adam Ryan. He’s 17 years old and already in the top 50 at Gfinity and has already taken part in the Gothia eCup. This year could be his breakout season.

Brandon: I’m looking forward most of all to all the new faces and am excited about seeing how established players can improve or if any of them actually stop playing FIFA.

Richard: It could be a special year for players who weren't at their best last season. I’m thinking of the likes of Rockyy, Timox, Shellz and Tass.

What have you personally got planned for next season?
Brandon: As much FIFA eSports content as possible, with our series "Life of a pro", our podcast and lots of vlogs from the events.

Richard: I will be doing lots of livestreaming and also concentrating on publishing as much as I can around the Global Series 2019.

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