The FIFA 19 eSports season marches on and this weekend sees the best players in the world descend upon London once more, with the EA FUT Champions Cup April being the latest tournament in the FIFA Global Series. The imperious F2Tekkz, who has largely dominated the season so far, will be in attendance once again and few would bet against him clinching a seventh FIFA 19 title. However, one man going against the grain is our very own eSports expert Alex Sarwar, who is instead tipping Msdossary to go all the way.
Why would Alex veer away from Tekkz? Well, Msdossary has plenty going for him. The Saudi Arabian is the reigning world champion, and has also picked up a FIFA 19 title when he lifted the second FUT Champions Cup trophy back in December, with both of those wins coming in London. Perhaps more noteworthy though, is the fact that the Rogue eSports player is one of the few players to have beaten Tekkz this this season.
That win took place in the aforementioned December FUT Champions Cup, and with there being a high possibility of the two heavyweights facing off once more this weekend, we've put our performance analysts to work to identify how Msdossary was victorious on that occasion.
We have singled out five key areas that were fundamental to Msdossary's win:
Msdossary controlled the tempo of the first of the two games with his familiar possession-based approach. He built play up from the back and used quick passing to create space to move up the pitch. This worked well to combat the high press adopted by Tekkz, with Msdossary able to move the ball around the opposition players with ease and find space. This also worked well in the final third and he again found space there for shots from the edge of the box.
Above is an example of Msdossary moving the ball into Tekkz' half. He plays the ball out to Walker, who the played a pass to Eusebio on the right wing. Tekkz brings the full-back high to follow him and try and win the ball but this then leaves space in behind him. Msdossary then plays the ball back inside to Vieira, who can play a simple through ball into the channel for Eusebio to chase onto. This not only got allowed Msdossary to advance into Tekkz' half, but also forced the CB to come out wide when he was there, leaving more space in the middle. This was the most effective way for Msdossary to get into Tekkz’ half across both legs.
Speed of attack was integral to Msdossary's success in breaching Tekkz' defence, but just as important was his ability to keep his opponent guessing. In both legs, he used his front four - in addition to his CDMs - to move the ball around at pace. This made it difficult for Tekkz to anticipate what he was going to do and meant he had to switch players much quicker than normal. As is the case for many FIFA players, Ruud Gullit was a vital cog in the machine. Tekkz often sat back from the legendary Dutchman, which proved to be a fatal mistake as Msdossary scored twice with him in the first leg. Tekkz is notoriously a slow starter and Msdossary exposed this weakness by committing men forward early. After this brace though, Tekkz adapted his own defensive approach by dropping his back four deeper and cutting off the lines of attack.
Above is an example of the quick, first-time passing that opened up space for Msdossary on the edge of the box. This passing from wide across the pitch created that huge gap for Gullit to run into and the pace of the passes meant Tekkz couldn’t switch to R9 quickly enough to close the space down. Gullit then had plenty of time to curl the ball into the top corner from 25 yards out.
Msdossary used his wingers effectively in defence, pulling them back to form two banks of four on occasion. This, along with good pressing and quick player switching, made him very difficult to break down and meant Tekkz was afforded few clear-cut opportunities. This was also the case further up the pitch in Tekkz’ half, meaning the Englishman struggled to maintain possession. Essentially, Msdossary's organised shape and coordinated pressing was highly effective in stifling Tekkz' natural play-style and preventing his opponent from finding any rhythm.
Above is an example of Msdossary defending in Tekkz' half. Here, he is in great shape and is stepping up to press the ball with 1-2 players. CR7 is pressing Gullit with the ball who has had to pass off to Vieira, but Msdossary has already anticipated this and has quickly switched to R9 to press again. Tekkz then has few options on the ball and eventually has to go back. This defensive shape and well-timed pressing and player switching disrupted Tekkz' flow in possession and didn’t allow him to get into the game.
After being fairly comfortable for large parts over the two legs, Msdossary was undone by Tekkz late in the second leg after he figured out a way to break down his defensive tactics. With ten minutes remaining and having just conceded, he was a goal down and needed to completely change his mindset from holding onto a lead and then a draw to now needing to attack with everything he had. Crucially, Msdossary remained calm, and while he changed his formation (from 4-2-3-1 to 3-3-2-2), he did not deviate too much from his general approach, which had been successful earlier in the tie. As a result, Msdossary turned it around to score the equaliser and then the winner in extra-time. This showed good character in a pressure situation and he remained calm when he needed it, something which other players, coming up against the best player in the world, may not have done. This 'fear factor' that seems to effect many players when they come up against Tekkz is a topic discussed in our latest eSports podcast.
Substitutes often have a significant impact on the outcome of FIFA matches as, much like in traditional football, they can offer fresh legs and different attributes to the player they are replacing. Msdossary know this all too well and his use of the bench was inspired against Tekkz. In the second leg, two of his substitutes combined late on to take the game into extra-time, with Ronaldinho setting up Pele. The timing of these substitutes was also key, and clearly planned, as Pele came on after 60 minutes in both legs and offered a different threat to the players he was replacing.
Of course, we can't forget that these two FIFA eSports rivals have faced off on two other occasions on FIFA 19, with the pair also facing off in December's PGL Cup and also more recently in Atlanta's FUT Champions Cup. Tekkz was victorious in both those encounters, so it will be fascinating to see what happens if they meets again this weekend. If Msdossary is searching for the ingredients for success against the player who has dominated the FIFA 19 scene, then he could do a lot worse than to review this win in December!
This is just a small sample of the analysis we have conducted around FIFA eSports. If you would like to know more about what we do and how it might benefit you, whether that be an analysis of your own game or a detailed report on an opponent, feel free to get in touch with us.