Who was the ‘Pep Guardiola’ of the 2021 FIFAe Club World Cup? We asked a competitive player

By Harry Edwards

Published: 21:33, 3 March 2021 | Updated: 21:09, 4 July 2023

Another year of the FIFAe Club World Cup concluded and six winners were confirmed over the final weekend of February.

The 2021 FIFAe Club World Cup began with over 480 teams participating in online qualifiers on Ultimate Team, which were eventually whittled down to 42 across six zones.

Some of the biggest eSports teams in the FIFA world took part, each represented by two players (one per console), with the goal of becoming one of the six winners and take home part of the $245,000 total prize pool in the final tournament held between February 26-28.

So what happened, who were the winners and what did we learn? We asked Josh Buchanan, a FIFA Ultimate Team player who has twice achieved a top 200 finish on FIFA 21 Weekend League, regularly hitting Elite (23 wins or more).

How do you become a professional FIFA eSports player?

“I don’t consider myself as a pro, more of a competitive player. I’ve always been good at FIFA from a young age but last year I started playing a bit more seriously due to lockdown and noticed I was pretty good.

“This year, I decided to play competitively in certain tournaments for fun. In order to do this, you have to become a FIFA Verified Player, which I am on the Xbox.

“To become a verified player, you needed to get 27 wins or more on a single Weekend League before December 31, 2020. I’m ranked around 800 on the Xbox Global Series leaderboard.

“Once verified, you unlock a game mode called “Friendly Competition”. This helps set up matches for tournaments. I probably play a few hours a day, but I don’t compete in every tournament.”

How big a deal is the FIFAe Club World Cup?

“The FIFAe Club World Cup is a special tournament for competitive FIFA players, teams and sponsors. It’s one of the larger tournaments throughout the season. There were over 400 teams spilt into 14 leagues alone in Europe. This gives the players the chance to win a World Cup.

“The way it’s run is a lot different to how normal FIFA tournaments are played. It’s done over several months throughout the year playing weekly matches. In other competitive FIFA tournaments, you’d play on your own over a weekend or day.

“However, in the FIFAe Club World Cup you play with a teammate, one on the Xbox and the other on a PlayStation against another team or club.

“The top teams from each group progress like how a normal football tournament would. For example, in the Club World Cup you’d play at a host nation for the tournament but, due to coronavirus, this couldn’t happen and the tournaments have taken place at home. Last year, the FIFAe Club World Cup was played in Milan, Italy.”

FIFAe Club World Cup winners:

  • Zone 1 (Oceania): Dire Wolves (DW JMKKing & DW Dylan)
  • Zone 2 (Asia): Blue United eFC (Agu & Tsakt)
  • Zone 3 (Africa & Middle East): 25 E-Sports (vZiad9 & Abo3zza10)
  • Zone 4 (Europe): Mkers (Mkers Prinsipe & Mkers Oliboli)
  • Zone 5 (South America): ELS Torneios Online (ELS MH7 & ELS PHZIN)
  • Zone 6 (North America): Complexity Gaming (COL Maxe & COL Joksan)

Could you compare any of the participants to real-life managers?

“Swedish player Oliboli most recently won the FUT Champions Cup 1 regional qualifier. He went unbeaten leading up to the final of the FIFAe Club World Cup. I would say you could compare him to Pep Guardiola, as he’s a serial winner this season with a patient playing style.

“Hashtag Tom of England is currently top of the Global Series leaderboard on the PlayStation in Europe. You could call Tom the Jürgen Klopp of the FIFA scene, with a high-pressing, aggressive playing style.”

Any upcoming tournaments to look out for?

“The big ones are the eChampions League (knockout stage takes place May 1-2) which is a PlayStation-only tournament, the FUT Champions Cup qualifiers and ePremier League (Finals to be played March 23-26). There’s also the eLions tournament, which gives you a chance to represent England at the FIFAe Nations Cup, but that’s already been and gone this season (with MHAYWXRD and BigMac winning to join Tekkz and Hashtag Tom).

“Each tournament gives you the chance to move up in the Global Series leaderboards by gaining ranking points. At the end of the season, the top 64 compete in the regional play-offs. This means every tournament is big but the main ones that offer the most Global Series ranking points are the FUT Champions qualifiers.

“The next competitive tournament I will personally be playing in is the FUT Champions Cup 4 qualifiers on the 6-7 March 2021 (streaming live on my Twitch). There are five of these tournaments each season.

“Similarly to the eWorld cup, you’d normally travel to these tournaments if you were to get through to the top 64. Last year, they were played in America and Romania. Previously, the top six players in this tournament were taken through to live broadcasted shows two weeks later, with some of their games shown live on the BBC iPlayer. The cash pool prize for the tournament is $250,000 on Xbox and $300,000 on PlayStation.”