Interview with Excel UK FIFA player Gorilla on qualifying for the ePremier League with Spurs, how EA may change the game after FIFA split and if he has a New Year’s esports resolution

Gorilla FIFA esports player
Excel Esports UK FIFA player Gorilla (aka Spencer Ealing) has just qualified for the ePremier League once again with his teammate Tom Leese, in a changing FIFA esports space.
Developer EA will break away from FIFA to launch its own EA Sports FC football game in 2023, and the esports for this may look very different to what it is right now.
For Gorilla, one of the UK’s most experienced FIFA pros with years of experience under his belt (and a FIFA eWorld Cup 2017 win), he remains hungrier than ever to pick up more wins in 2023. Esports News UK editor Dom Sacco sits down with him to pick his brain on these topics, as well as Excel’s recent FIFA promotion with Just Eat.

Congratulations on qualifying for the ePremier League with Spurs and your teammate Tom once again. How does that feel and what are your thoughts going into the next tournament?

Last year we both qualified for the ePremier League in FIFA 22 but the actual event itself didn’t go to plan for a few reasons, but we can definitely perform a lot better.

We have Javier Villar as a coach so I think we’ll be a bit more well planned. I think the aim this time around is to win. I’m there to win. I feel like everyone says they want to win, but deep down they know they probably won’t, so for me I have the confidence to go in and actually do it. There’s no point going there just to take part.

Our aim is always to win, whether 1v1 or 2v2, we’ve got the first stage done, which is qualifying. The only thing I’ve got to do is adapt to the Xbox controller as I’m on that and Tom is on PS.

Now you and Tom have qualified for Spurs. Are you both Spurs fans?

No, no, no. I don’t support Spurs. Tom does, he supports Tottenham but I support West Brom. 

Ok, you’ve raised in my estimations now. As an Arsenal fan, it pains me to report on Excel players representing Spurs. Why play for Spurs then, is it because of Tom, or Excel being based in London, or another reason?

Yeah, it’s cos of Tom really. Last year, we thought it’d be nice to carry on the relationship within the team. I know it was 1v1, but practising together and being in the same environment makes sense. This year I had the opportunity to stay on PS but go through a different team maybe. I was never gonna compete against Tom.

At the end of the day, it’s all about your teammate. If I win 3-0 but my teammate loses 4-0, then you’re not gonna do well, so you need to have faith in your teammate and I obviously have that with Tom.

With it being two legs, one on PS and one on Xbox, it makes sense to team up with Tom. I’m familiar with the Xbox controller from years ago, but once you go onto a different device, it’s challenging to adapt back to it, but with Tom I’m sure it’ll be fine.

So what you’re saying is if Tom was an Arsenal fan, then you might have entered the Arsenal qualifiers with him and represent the better club?

(Laughs) Possibly! I dunno, to be fair though, last year with Tottenham it was my first time in and around that environment. It was very good. They gave us a tour of the stadium and the comms team were recording it, so they went high in my expectations in terms of making me feel welcome, and it helps with Tom being a Spurs fan as well.

Excel were recently knocked out of the EA Sports Cup – how would you reflect on your performances in that?

We unfortunately got knocked out in the group stage. There were two weeks, match day one where you played every team in your group once, we didn’t lose a game. Then in week two, we played and don’t know, we were playing really well in practice and had confidence, and said we’d just enjoy ourselves, but for some reason as soon as we started playing our games, it just wasn’t happening. 

We didn’t score a goal in the first two games, and then before you know it, the top teams made a bigger gap with points and it was hard to bring it back. In short, we didn’t turn up and play. 

I still believe Tom and I are one of the best 2v2 teams, on our day, especially last year. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to learn the game, there will be plenty of tournaments to rectify it. It’s disappointing because it’s a big event, but there’s nothing you can do about it bar learning from it.

“I’m in the ePremier League to win it. I feel like everyone says they want to win, and deep down they know they probably won’t, but for me I have the confidence to go in and actually do it. There’s no point going there just to take part.”

Gorilla, Excel Esports

Speaking of disappointments, England’s physical football team recently exited the World Cup. People have started complaining about the team set up, the manager, Harry Kane etc. But for me it doesn’t mean we’re a bad team, and you can’t win every game all the time. What are your views on that and its similarities with esports?

It’s the same with anything. At the end of the day there aren’t many things where you can’t factor in luck. You might have an off day. If Harry Kane scores that second penalty, we might go into extra time or penalties, and win. Then we might be having a different conversation. 

In our 2v2 tournament we had chances to score, and had we, we’d have taken the lead. So it’s about fine margins and with FIFA being a video game, an esports game, it’s very hard for one individual to be winning every single event, it’s just not possible. You’re not going to win everything, so you try to learn from that and improve for the next one. 

I think it’s tough for England in particular. If you lose a game on the weekend in the Premier League, you can quickly rectify it next weekend, and it’s the same with FIFA, we have a lot of tournaments. But for England the next major tournament is the Euros, so you have to wait before you can bounce back.

FIFA 23 is still relatively new. Another pro UK player, Shawrey (from Horizon) posted a tweet about hackers he came across in the game, such as a player who was using Leeroy Sané with five star skills, even though Sané can’t have  five star skills in FIFA. Is there a hacking problem with the game you’ve witnessed too?

I don’t think it’s as severe as it is in other games. Like it was a common thing in Call of Duty last year. When EA announced they were going to add crossplay to the game – which I’m all for, especially console to console – my automatic thought was: ‘Here we go’. 

When they mentioned console players could play against PC players, you already know stuff is gonna happen. EA can’t plan for what hacks come out, they can only react to it. So I think it’s common sense to assume.

Of course not every single PC user is going to hack, but it seems easier to create these hacks and cheats on PC because of the open source. Every time there are cheats and hacks, it’s always a PC game, it’s rarely on console. 

You can turn crossplay off, which is good but I want to be able to play console to console. I should be able to turn off which device I play against, so if I want to turn off [playing against PC users], I should have the right to do that. 

I said all this when it was first announced and people didn’t believe me, but here we are! 

What are your thoughts on FIFA 23 compared to previous versions, have you and Tom had to adapt much?

Gameplay is gameplay, it changes year on year, month to month with patches. FIFA 23 kind of has the same feel as last year. It’s like I woke up one day, the game is the same but you have to play it a lot differently. The only thing that’s different this year on the menus is the graphics, everything is identical. 

My opinion is that this year is a filler year. EA and FIFA are splitting, so I feel like they’re gonna put all their eggs into their own basket – why would you make another brand’s game better than it could be? 

I’m not saying they want FIFA 23 to be bad, but on a scale of one to ten in terms of content, they might want FIFA to be a four, then when they split, their own game can be a ten. They need to convince the FIFA fans to go over to their game and entice people, and I think their strategy is to do that, and that’s why I feel this new game is a bit samey and copy and paste from last year. It’s a shame but I can understand it. And I hope and expect EA Sports FC, when it comes out next year, to be very different.

You’ve recently been taking part in a ‘Just Eat: Taste for Glory’ three-part YouTube series, where you and Tom Leese, Excel FIFA head coach Javier ‘Javi’ Villar and Horizon’s Alex ‘Shawrey’ Shaw have had to blindly taste food from World Cup countries and guess it correctly to get players for your FIFA team. What’s that been like? 

It was tough, to be fair. I was confident before doing it, but once your blindfold goes on your taste gets a bit messed up. It was something different – I didn’t get many right! Which is embarrassing. It looks easy, but when you’re sitting there tasting it, it’s very very tough. 

Also, when we have boot camps and stuff, Just Eat are more than happy to help us out with food, where and when. 

What’s the new Excel Esports HQ like? 

Last year the HQ was at Twickenham and we had two houses there, and that’s where we’d boot camp. This year we’ve been going to the HQ and it’s really good, we have our own space and it ticks all the boxes for us in terms of what we need.

What are your thoughts on the current state of FIFA esports?

It’s an interesting one. FIFA esports has all the potential and I feel like every year I’m always saying, ‘next year’. I’m at the point now where I love competing and there’s a lot of tournaments. Back in the day, I feel like FIFA 17 was the pinnacle, 18 was good, 19 had a lot of events. 

I’m assuming it’s a waiting game to take it to that next level with EA. As far as I’m aware with the conversations over the year, it’s a FIFA thing where they have the licenses and are more hands-on, whereas EA maybe have a different path competitively that they want to take. So when they split then it’s all down to EA, so we’ll have to wait and see.

I like how they brought 2v2 in and had more of a focus on that, I’ve been an advocate of that, and having that relationship with a player and going through the highs and lows… I wish there were more tournaments online. My last tournament was three weeks ago and my next one won’t be until January 7th 2023, so some active online tournaments sponsored by EA, giving us something to stream, would be cool.

And what about UK FIFA talent, what are your views in general on that?

UK-wise we have a lot of good playing, they had a good outing last year in 1v1 and with some 2v2 partners as well. So that’s good to see.

We had a bunch of good players a few years ago, but now I feel like with FIFA 22 and 23 there are a lot more bigger names in the scene for the UK that are good FIFA players, so it’s good to see. 

gorilla wins fifa interacti 1
Gorilla won the FIFAe World Cup back in 2017

It’ll be interesting to see how EA changes the approach to its esports football games without having to abide by FIFA and its rules and regulations. There are a lot of events in FIFA esports, there’s the FIFAe Club World Cup, Nations Cup, World Cup, the EA Sports Cup… do you think there’s too much? 

I don’t think you’ll hear a pro complaining of too many tournaments. But sometimes there are scheduling conflicts. Last year we had the Club World Cup on PlayStation 2v2 on a Saturday and Sunday, then a day after, we had to sit down for the ePremier League LAN on Xbox 1v1. Stuff like that is not fair in my opinion, as not everyone was playing Club World Cup, so everyone else could practise but I couldn’t. If I started playing on Xbox, my performance on PS would be bad, so I can’t win. 

So I had to prioritise on the tournament in front of me and stuff like that is avoidable, but you’ll never hear a pro about having too many events. Because if you do, then they shouldn’t be competing. 

We’re coming towards the end of 2022. What’s your new year’s resolution?

I think it’s simple for me. I just wanna win. I feel like I’ve been chasing it for a while. Whether it’s in FIFA or other esports players, you get a lot of pro players who are very good and hold a certain weight with their name, but then they don’t win again. But you still think they’re good because of what they’ve won.

I feel like people think it’s the same with me. I haven’t won a major tournament since 2017, the FIFAe World Cup, but I genuinely believe I can do it. It’s one of those where it’s fine margins, the Club World Cup would have been unbelievable. We lost on penalties in the quarter finals. If we win that, I genuinely think we could’ve won the whole thing. But, ifs and buts. 

It’s not my new year’s resolution, but I’m striving to get that W, whether it’s the ePremier League, Club World Cup, whatever it might be, I want to win again.

Related article: ePremier League returns for fifth year, grand finals to take place at London’s Here East

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments