FIFA is an incredibly popular video game in England, due largely to the country’s obsession with football. The country rallies behind its myriad men’s and women’s teams that compete. However, unlike the professional sports realm, there is still something of a widespread misconception that women don’t play the FIFA video game. As a result, many still believe that women shouldn’t even compete in esports tournaments.
Changing the perception of gamers
This is a perception that professional FIFA player Lisa Manley wants to alter. The 20-year-old has experience playing football for both AFC Wimbledon and Fulham and is also a former-member of the Kingston College Academy. This academy is also known as the Alex Scott Academy, the first-ever women’s football academy in the U.K.
She has since signed on to the esports team No Fuchs Given, owned by Leicester City left-back Christian Fuchs. Manley is officially the first-ever women to compete in the ePremeir League Club Playoffs. She attempted to play for Fulham last year and entered to represent Crystal Palace. Despite her best efforts, she was eliminated by eventual-winner Kylem “Lyricz” Edwards.
Manley stated that it was hard to compete against him. This is especially considering his Ultimate team squad was worth around 25 million coins (the game’s currency). In comparison, her squad was worth juts 1.4 million coins. Still, Manley has made significant progress after competing for the last year-and-a-half.
“To be fair, I didn’t think I was good enough to compete, it was just I got contacted by Christian [Fuchs] over Twitter to join his own FIFA esports team. He wanted to get more ladies into FIFA and he messaged me saying a lot of people were talking about me,” she said.
“When I joined I was getting 14 out of 30 wins in the Weekend League which obviously is quite below average but since joining them I’ve gone up to 24 wins which is a huge improvement. That only happens with the help of No Fuchs Given, playing the other people in the team and getting advice on what I’m doing right and wrong.”
Facing criticism head-on
When No Fuchs Given first announced Manley as a new talent signing, much criticism was voiced. But many are supportive of the journey she’s had thus far.
“When I was first announced, there was a lot of hate because I wasn’t getting anywhere near the wins of everyone else. When I posted I got 20 wins, people, for the first time, asked how I was a pro. But then others said do you know many girls who get 20 plus wins on Weekend League? No.” Manley said.
In physical sports, significant debate exists regarding the physical differences between the two genders. On the subject of gaming, there are no barriers that should prevent women from competing. That is, apart from potential online trolls.
More women are making their appearances in the esports industry and compete at the top level. Se-yeon “Geguri” Kim is the first women to compete in the Overwatch League. Rumay “Hafu” Wang was the highest-ranked player in Riot Game’s Teamfight Tactics game. Then there’s Jamie “Karma” Bickford who has made a name for herself in Rocket League.
It’s only a matter of time before more women start to join the FIFA esports scene and challenge the top players.