As the build-up to the eagerly anticipated 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup - which kicks off in London on 2ndAugust - ramps up, The Stats Zone continue to bring you a number of exclusive interviews with a collection of the 32 players who will be competing in the biggest tournament that eSports has to offer.
In this interview, we spoke to Red Bull Athlete Ivan “Hashtag Boras” Lapanje. The Swede currently plays for Hashtag United and is one of three players who will represent the popular football club and eSports team at the 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup Grand Final. “Hashtag Boras” will be seeded 15th on the PlayStation 4 and compete in Group C alongside the likes of number one seed “nicolas99fc” and last year’s eWorld Cup runner up Kai “deto” Wollin.
Lapanje has won numerous prestigious titles in a career that spans back all the way to FIFA 10. A Las Vegas World Gaming Challenge Series winner along with multiple Swedish championships, an FIWC bronze medal and this season a TropSe Masters title means that Lapanje knows what it takes to win major events. He spoke to us about how much it would mean to become world champion and keeping himself disciplined ahead of the tournament.
We’ve collected data from the recent Global Series Playoffs in Amsterdam and created FIFA style play cards for each qualifier:
Stats are based on Global Series Qualifiers group stage games only
GPG = Goals per game
CPG = Conceded per game
SHO = Shot accuracy
POS = Average possession
PAS = Pass accuracy
RNK = eWorld Cup ranking based on our algorithm
When did your professional FIFA career begin?
“It began in 2013 when I quit my job at a warehouse to focus fully on professional FIFA.”
How do you balance all the practice, travelling, online/offline competition that comes with being a professional FIFA player with maintaining your everyday lifestyle?
“It's all about discipline and sacrificing some things in life that aren't that important, for example watching television. I am running two Youtube channels simultaneously and sometimes these can be short, but a day is 24 hours and I try to maximize the time as much as possible. Physical workout and good diet is important for me to stay fresh.”
If you weren’t a professional FIFA eSports player, what would you be doing right now?
“It’s hard to tell but I'd probably run my own business in some way. I always had the mind of an entrepreneur and tried to create instead of following orders of others.”
You’ve qualified for the FIFA eWorld Cup. How does it feel knowing all the hard work you’ve put in this season has been worthwhile?
“It's the most fantastic feeling. It's been a long journey this season and the only target was to reach the grand final. Now I'm there, but there is still a lot to play for!”
How will you approach the event in terms of training and practice?
“I will try to play as many pro vs pro games as possible to adapt to the high tempo and refine my defence. On top of that there will also be a regular grind in the Weekend League to get the hours in and find the timing in the attack.”
Who do you consider your biggest competition from the 31 other players who have made it to London?
“I don't underestimate anyone. All players who made it there are fantastic FIFA players. I will focus only on my own gameplay.”
Have you thought about the money on offer in London and the publicity that comes with competing in such a prestigious event?
“It's inevitable to think about the big prize pool which of course motivates you extra to put in the hours, but mainly it's all about the title and the glory. To become world champion is something we all dream of.”
How much has Hashtag United helped you to make that final push that has seen you secure qualification?
“I’ve had fantastic support from them. I believe we at Hashtag play in the perfect environment. We get all the help and support that we can wish for from the team. They are great!”
How crucial has the FIFA eWorld Cup been to establishing FIFA as a global eSport?
“This is the first year with the new format but FIWC has been there for many years. It's always the competition that you want to reach and the competition you want to peak in. It makes people spend countless extra hours to refine their skills in order to have the chance to become world champion.”
Tell us about your personal FIFA 18 playstyle and how often (if ever) you have to alter this playstyle on short notice depending on your opponents, the situation of a match etc?
“I'm pretty flexible in my gamestyle. I can play in certain different ways and there is always a plan B and C. To adapt is an important ingredient to success.”
Do you like to tinker with your team and formations game to game, or do you prefer to keep a particular XI and only change it as a last resort?
“When it comes to my starting XI and players I would consider myself conservative – I make very few changes. The main changes always come to formation and play-style, but I believe in my 11 men and the super subs I have chosen before the tournament in my preparations.”
Which players are the most crucial to the way you play on FIFA 18?
“I like physical and tall players. There is nothing that makes me angrier than when my player loses a 50/50 battle. I also like versatile players. A five star weak foot is a golden trait.”
FIFA 18 has almost completed its cycle. Overall how have you found the game and do you consider it a success from a competitive point of view?
I’ve personally enjoyed the game and think it offers a bigger skill-gap than FIFA 17 for example. I know many other players have struggled and I agree there are improvements to do to add a bigger skillgap and a bigger "fun-factor" to the game. Regarding FIFA eSports, it has definitely moved forward since last year, but I think there is a bit more to ask to keep up the pace with other major eSports.”
What can FIFA 19 do to improve on FIFA 18 and are there any new features you would add to the game to improve it competitively if you had the power?
“It would definitely be to add more tactical options to counter certain gamestyles. There are some gamestyles in FIFA 18 that are overpowered and lack options to stop.”
Follow “Hashtag Boras” on Twitter here along with his club Hashtag United and be sure to keep an eye on our FIFA eWorld Cup tournament index page as we bring you further exclusive interviews and build-up to the biggest FIFA eSports tournament in history!