Following the launch of FIFA 19 and the Premier League announcing its first esports tournament, the ePremier League, we interview pro UK FIFA player Ryan "Hashtag Ryan" Pessoa.
As a player for Hashtag United and an official Red Bull athlete, we ask Hashtag Ryan for his views on FIFA 19 as an esport compared to FIFA 18, the Gfinity Elite Series, ePremier League and which club he wants to play for in that tournament.
Esports News UK: Good to interview you again Ryan (you spoke to us at the FIWC last year). How have things progressed for you since then? Please tell us about how your esports career has developed so far.
Ryan Pessoa: My pleasure! A lot has changed since the grand finals in London 2017. It was my first major event and I went into the event very unprepared and raw to the scene, but it helped me gain vital experience in competing at the highest level.
In FIFA 18, I qualified for every single event performing well and ranked high amongst the worlds best; however, I did not manage to qualify for the Grand Finals as I lost on the 120th minute the round before qualifying, which was disappointing.
This year on FIFA 19 so far, I have qualified for the first two FUT Champions Cups out of two opportunities and I'm looking to make sure I get enough pro points to qualify for the Grand Finals this year.
What was it like becoming Red Bull's first sponsored UK esports player earlier this year?
It's amazing to be affiliated with a high company like Red Bull. They offer amazing opportunities and support to help my profile grow, whilst developing me as not just an esports player, but a person in general.
What kind of things are you working on with Red Bull at the moment?
We are working on several things in the gaming sphere, for example 'Up Your Game' where I go over tactics to help players improve their FIFA 19 skills, and it helps me gain experience and help people who want to improve.
"I prefer FIFA 19 to 18 - I did not enjoy that FIFA whatsoever because the skill gap was not relatively large between the top players, but that is still an issue on FIFA 19 in my opinion."
What are your thoughts on FIFA 19, compared to 18 and other past FIFAs?
I believe that FIFA 19 has a lot of potential, but there are flaws that hopefully will be addressed to help the game flow a lot better. I personally prefer it to FIFA 18 - I did not enjoy that FIFA whatsoever because the skill gap was not relatively large (between the top players), but that is still an issue on FIFA 19 in my opinion.
It is still in its early stages so there is a lot of time for the game to change. I like the new mechanics that were introduced this year, for example timed finishing, it adds an aspect into the game where you are rewarded for timing something perfectly, and it's something I've enjoyed learning.
Hashtag Ryan commented on Twitter about the recent FUT Champions Cup won by fellow Brit Donovan "F2Tekkz" Hunt:
After reflecting on this weekend I’ve decided I will come off social media for a little while. Going to get my mind straight and focus on my exams, assignments and perfecting my FIFA skills, cya soon✌🏾.
— Ryan Pessoa (@HashtagRyan_) December 3, 2018
How did you find the current season of the Gfinity Elite Series?
The Gfinity Elite Series is a great competitive format this year and focuses on team work within the teams that participate with the 2v2 system. It's different to play in as I've never played 2v2 personally, so it's something new to me, but I can imagine it being very entertaining to watch.
I believe every team involved had a strong enough roster to win the Elite Series; however, I believe that we, Hashtag United can win the whole thing (Rocket League and Street Fighter too), as the synergy amongst the players and the amazing communication plus the skill level of our players is top notch.
(Editor: Please note this interview was conducted in mid-November during an earlier part of the Elite Series; the finals are this weekend)
What do you think of the ePremier League? How excited are you about this?
Having the Premier League involved in FIFA esports is pivotal in making the scene take the next step in growth, and I can't wait for it to begin!
"A lot has changed since the grand finals in London 2017. It was my first major event and I went into the event very unprepared and raw to the scene, but it helped me gain vital experience in competing at the highest level."
Which Premier League club would you love to represent if you could choose one?
I am an Arsenal fan so of course they are the team I would love to represent.
Good man! Come on you Gunners. Is it possible for you to play with Hashtag and also potentially an ePremier League team?
Yes, it is possible for me to represent a Premier League team whilst being under contract with Hashtag United.
Good luck Ryan and hope to see you in the ePremier League.