FIFA 18 FUT Champions Interview Series – Ivan Churov Part 1

As FIFA 18 and FUT Champions is racing towards it’s first event on the road to the FIFA eWorld Cup, we sat down with Ivan, “night_watch”, who qualified for the Barcelona event in 44th place on the Xbox. To say he had some things to say is just an understatement.

FUT Champions

I guess we can start to talk about some FIFA

Yeah of course, I would say my pleasure, at times..

You qualified in 44th place on the Xbox, have you always been playing on Xbox?

The first FIFA I played was in 2002, when I was a little kid. I have an enormous passion for football, so that’s why I play FIFA with friends. Between FIFA 14 and 15, or 15 and 16, a friend told me I can play FIFA online for free.  I’m not one to play games so often so that I buy them, it’s just not worth my time. It was called FIFA Online 2, it doesn’t exist anymore. I downloaded it in the summer and got addicted to playing online with different people and different playstyles.

Then I bought FIFA 15 , on PC. Started playing on PC, same with FIFA 16. PC has an enormous issue with trainers and hackers and it’s unplayable. In Division 1 – you go into a game they just quit in the first minute. I think they have been starting to ban people because of the weekend league and rewards and stuff like that, but it’s still unplayable. The market is also very expensive – it’s not fun. I decided to continue playing on 16, hoping, naively, that they would fix it. After, I decided that the money I won from LAN events in Bulgaria, because I had been going to LAN events for 2-3 years now, I would invest in an Xbox and switch to there.

Why Xbox and not Playstation?

Back then I was doing a road to glory type account, and prices on Xbox were lower, so you get more value for your time. I played on Xbox even though all my friends and the LAN events were on Playstation. On FIFA 17 I continued playing on Xbox. I knew I was the best here, in this region/Bulgaria and among my friends, but I was nowhere near European and Global level. I knew I probably have the abilities but I didn’t have the mentality for it. Mentality in FIFA is probably the biggest step you have to make to get to a new level.

FIFA 18 then came out and I was very pumped.. I hated FIFA 17 – AI defending was the bane of my existence. With all the FIFA 18 promos and everything, I knew there wouldn’t be as much AI defending. I won a Coca-Cola tournament in Bulgaria, which flew me out to Gamescom, so I got to play FIFA 18 there (the demo). I played it and I was very happy. Things needed to be fixed, like long shots, but it was skill based. It was the most skill based FIFA I played .. and then the first patch came and it all went downhill.

I was very upset. I may not be on the level of pros in terms of gameplay and content, but in terms of passion for the game, I’m up there. I’ve been DM’ing EA employees, because they’ve asked me to, clips of broken in game mechanics and stuff that shouldn’t occur, so that they can patch it. I’ve seen things that people don’t even think that exists. There’s a glitch that when your opponent passes from kickoff, if you pause just after he kicks it off, and when the game unpauses, the player automatically kicks it up the field. I noticed it happens in divisions, not weekend league, and draft, which saved yourself defending the kickoff glitch. Which was basically stopping a clear cut chance on goal.

The kickoff glitch, some people say it’s a myth…

The kickoff glitch is not a myth. This weekend I had a game finish 6-5, I won it in the 90th minute. The guy scored 4 kickoff glitches. 4. I know how to defend, he wasn’t a pro – he was a good player, he ended on 33 wins, but I feel helpless at kickoff. Maybe one of them was my fault, but 3 of them, I felt helpless. If the player is competent enough, there is little to nothing you can do. You can park the bus, you can offside trap, you can run with your strikers, you can do anything, there is nothing that works 10 times out of 10.

That’s another thing I hate about this game, there’s no consistency. I’ve spent a lot of time on this game, almost 1,300 games. You would think that in a normal esport, this amount of time would be enough to learn 95% of the in-game mechanics. To know that they would work 9 or 10 times out of 10. Not in FIFA. In FIFA you try something 10 times you will get 5 different results.

Kurt is very vocal about that

I share the exact same opinion as Kurt, regarding gameplay, regarding skill, regarding almost anything. There’s a streamer called Inception, back in FIFA 15 and 16 he was the first one to talk about inconsistent gameplay. Since I’ve been watching him I’ve started noticing that. It’s not due to the Frostbite engine, because it was there before the engine. It’s not due to the connection, because you have inconsistent gameplay at LAN events. Even offline head-to head you have it. I hope they know what it is, but I don’t think they do. They would’ve fixed it by now.

They either don’t know what it is, or its purposely built into the game. Not handicap, not scripting, not momentum, I’m not a fan of those myths. There is probably some occasions where the game favours your opponent, but its not enough for you to be leading 3-0, your opponent drops his controller and makes it 3-3. It probably helps him a bit, but you can still beat it. You have pros going 40-0 week in, week out, so it is possible. If its built in the game, to what extent?

I believe there’s bad gameplay. Good gameplay is responsive and quick. In bad gameplay, if you don’t have the top top players, and even then, its not skill based. I can have the 90 Gullit, and in bad gameplay he feels like the 86 Gullit. It’s still the 86 Gullit which most people don’t have, but he feels a lot different. Players feel a lot different.

A prime example – Gorilla on Friday went 23-0. He’s not the type to complain and make excuses. You have him going 23-0 in good gameplay, occasionally says this game doesn’t feel good, feels bad. On Saturday he goes on, and Saturday is the most populated server wise, and you have him go 5-4 in the first 9 games, with the same team and the same tactics. You see the games he loses, on pens, undeservedly. This is something that should not happen in a game that should be a skill based esport.

So do you think performance is related to the amount of concurrent people are on the servers?

I don’t think so. It could be a factor, but I don’t think so since it’s been happening also at LAN events that don’t require internet. I’ve played almost every week, or at least every month in the last 3 years LAN events, and it doesn’t change. The inconsistency just doesn’t change. Its always there. You don’t know what game you’re going to get. So, you always have to adjust. In the first 20 seconds of the game, I know if the game will be good or bad. The thing is, is that it also changes during the games. It’s absurd! You can start the game in in fast gameplay, and end it in slow, or vice-versa. That is what I think that makes people think that there is handicap and momentum.

If people start the game where their players feel good and they go 1-2 goals up, and then game turns bad. It happens, I’ve had it happen to me. Suddenly, your players take extra touches, they turn slow.. the stuck in the mud thing. Then it’s 2-2 or you are losing 3-2. That’s what makes people believe in handicap and momentum. I’m really worried about the [state of the] game in January, what it’s going to be like. I think it’s going to be first goal wins.

I think, as soon as someone takes the lead, you’re not getting the ball back. If someone is good at keeping the ball, your’re not getting it back.

Isn’t there a rule against time wasting tho?

I think in Gfinity there was, 10 minutes of in game time you cannot keep the ball at the corner flag. You can pass it around, but in regionals I don’t think there was such a rule because I saw people do that with no time restrictions what so ever.

We’re pretty sure there was a rule where it said you are not allowed to timewaste

Define timewaste. Players like Rocky hold the ball 65-75% of the time. I’ve played him once this year and I knew what I was going up against, so I could counter it by keeping the ball myself. Come January I’m going to “scout” most of the players so I know who plays how. When I faced Rocky and Brian in the weekend league, I knew they were both very possession based players and I knew I had to defend for my life. If I had 2 chances I had to score 2 goals. I was prepared for that, and it worked. I got lucky against Rocky, I scored a kickoff glitch. Had it not been that, I probably wouldn’t’ had won. At regionals, or if we play 10 more times, I won’t score a kickoff glitch, he’ll keep the ball and sooner or later he’d score. Then you’d be lucky to even get the ball back.

Are you predicting we will see a lot of possession based low scoring games?

There’s two sides to this coin. If none of the players are possession based, you’re going to see kickoff glitches and goals galore. If you have two possession players, I don’t think you’re going to see more than a 1-0, 2-0, or 2-1 game because of their style of play. I predict when somebody will go 1-0 up, they’re going to keep the ball. When you get it back, logically, you start to rush, tournament pressure and so on. For example, Rocky plays ossession style as opposed to Gorilla. If Rocky goes 1-0 up he will keep the ball and it [the game] will depend on how good his opponent is in pressing. If Gorilla goes 1-0, he’ll still go at it. He won’t keep possession, he’ll be vulnerable because Gorilla plays to score more, Rocky plays to concede less. That’s how I think about it.

However, they [EA] have a lot of stuff to fix before January, and I think they won’t. I don’t think they can, I hope they will… It may be fun to watch, the games which are 9-5, but it won’t be competitive. Way too many things do not depend on you for the game to be 100% skill based.

Let’s be honest, if the game was 100% skill based, I would not have won some of the games I have won this year, and I definitely wouldn’t have lost to some of the opponents I’ve lost to this year. I would rather the game be competitive and skill based, and me not qualify, than the game be in this state until the end of the year, and me qualify. I would rather have to learn and get better in a skill based game, than have to get lucky in a qualifying month to qualify.

You raise a valid point, as you know, the build in which you guys play on at regionals is different.

Yes, which is also not ok in my opinion. You cannot be going to an event having played about 2,000 games on one version of the game, then go to an event and play a different version. From what I heard, at FIWC the game was abysmally slow.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this explosive interview!