Christian Fuchs is a professional Premier League football player who also runs his own clothing brand. Now he is stepping into esports with the launch of the No Fuchs Given academy. We sat down with him to talk about his project, FIFA, and his love of gaming. Listen to our podcast below or read the transcript.
Hello and welcome to today’s Edge Esports interview. Today I’ll be interviewing Premier League footballer Christian Fuchs and about his new venture going into esports and how he has created the No Fuchs Given academy.
Hi Daniel, thanks for having me.
So, Christian, The first question I’d like to ask you today is why the esports industry? What is is it that grabbed your attention?
Well growing up I played a lot of FIFA myself, I think literally everyone in the world is playing any kind of game. It’s simply a very booming market, it’s growing by the day. I was always having a look at it from a far but then and I literally saw my son following these guys from Fortnite or Overwatch and checking out their twitch accounts, honestly with restrictions because my son is 9 years old, but seeing with how much passion he’s following these guys and knowing every single player I was like ‘wow that business is really growing’. There’s a big boom around it and then I thought let’s try it let’s to give it a try and obviously it’s an extension of the No Fuchs Given clothing brand. It obviously helps with my exposure but it’s very interesting since, like I said at the beginning, I grew up playing FIFA literally every day. I came home from school, I did my homework, but after that it was either going outside playing football with my friends or if it didn’t work out because it was raining, snowing, whatever, it meant staying at home and playing FIFA as long as possible.Obviously it was with friends again but that’s what it was. I love gaming, I love games, to play them and even with family and being a little bit older now, the passion is still there.
Yeah I mean I think that’s the biggest thing about esports and gaming in general really like we’re talking about FIFA, they release a new one every single year so no matter what you can always play a new FIFA depending what year it is. You’ve always got a new one. So, your son, he plays FIFA as well?
Of course I mean he is always trying to challenge me in those games. I mean I have a couple more years behind me playing FIFA than him so I’m always taking it easy on him. But literally I was playing against a friend of mine who is Mike LaBelle, he is an e-gamer From Red Bull New York so he’s part of the eMLS. We had a match-up he was surprised by, listen I’m not playing all the time, but he was surprised by how I played. So the game ended 5-3 but I was leading 1-0 then 3-3 suddenly and I definitely scored the better goals!
That’s what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter who wins, it’s about who score with better finesse, you know?
100% that’s all it is!
Well I guess you’ve answered my follow-up question which was gonna be was it your choice to go into the esports industry? A passion for gaming? Or something that someone advised you to do? I’m guessing now though that it was your son and your experience with FIFA when you were younger that influenced you to go towards gaming.
I mean if I go after my son he would say ‘do something with fortnite’ or ‘do something with Overwatch’ because he really loves those games but obviously he also loves football and it was a logical step For myself. I mean I’m a footballer myself, signing up for an esports academy, it has to be something with football, so obviously I picked FIFA. Iit was just a logical step for me because then I am kind of understanding my e-gamers. I mean being a physical gamer or an e-gamer. But you still have the same ambitions you still have to know tactics, you have to cope with pressure sometimes. When you’re at those big tournaments you get into situations where it’s all or nothing, or it’s a penalty shootout, or you’ve got to win the next point to get to the final. And being the final, there’s pressure. It doesn’t matter if you’re literally standing on the field or if you’re sitting in front of the TV, you still have to play. I think I can help my players that I have right now to cope with those situations, give them my experience from a different angle maybe, but they doing pretty well so far.
So moving onto my next question, what do you hope from the academy to achieve in time?
Well primarily I would love to help me these talents to get exposed, to become better players. That’s the main aim. That’s why we’re trying to set up friendly games against different academies also from other countries but then in the long run do you want these players to be successful. You want them to participate at big tournaments and make a name for themselves so as much as passion is included, it’s still a business as well. So to be successful, to make a living out of it; that would be great for them. And obviously that helps the No Fuchs Given brand.
That’s very good. So following on with your hopes and aspirations the Academy what are your hopes for the entire gaming industry in general?
Well first of all I don’t believe ‘hope’ is the right word for the gaming industry. Look at a couple of years ago. You cannot compare what it is these days. It’s exponentially growing. Like we said at the beginning, people love gaming so there will always be a passion for it. It doesn’t matter which game it is I think right now there are hundreds of games that are being played online that are being played competitively, so for me personally as the owner of the no Fuchs given Academy I want to be global. My number one player right now is base in Shanghai. He’s the number one in Shanghai so that makes me proud. He just played at the FIFA online 4 eWorld Cup tournament. He did really well there. But then I want to expand my brand. Right now it’s with FIFA but I’m not afraid of looking at titles like for Fortnite, but first of all I need to see what the feedback is how the Academy grows with FIFA at the moment and then what’s the next logical step, but I’m not restricting myself to football obviously.
FIFA at the moment is not the largest of esports. The esports market is being dominated currently by League of Legends and Overwatch especially with the Overwatch League. Do you plan to put FIFA in the future, or any other future FIFs such as FIFA 19 and FIFA 20, do you plan to put them on the big esports scale of things?
That is absolutely a goal. I think the benefit that FIFA has in the long run is that most of the people in the world are passionate about football itself, so I believe the recent World Cup benefits the game and vice versa. There will always be an interest for football And it will never die down. I don’t know if it will ever be the number one game, I don’t want to talk about that, but it will always be there will always constantly be there. Maybe other titles will die down at some point because there’s nothing physical or, say, you’re playing FIFA with Ronaldo.
Yes that’s the problem with a lot of PvE games, which is player versus environment, is that those games seem to drop off the spectrum when content starts to run dry. Whereas PvP games, player versus player, are always consistent because it’s brand new interactions every time you play because there’s always new people.
Exactly. Say, an example with Ronaldo or Messi or Mbappe now. Everyone wants to buy Mbappe and and see what his new football stats are. So, he’s an uprising star now, and he will be an uprising star in FIFA. And there will always be new players coming out and I think that’s the interesting part about it. My son watches FIFA he saw Ibrahimovic playing and he liked his hair band when he played for the Swedish national team, because we also played Austria against Sweden. So he came into the Stadium where I played Austria against Sweden and he saw him. What did he do the next day? He went home, played FIFA and obviously picked Sweden because he liked Ibrahimovic. So this transition from real football to e-gaming to FIFA; I think that really supports the brand itself and that’s why I believe in the long run, maybe not at the very top, But FIFA will always be present it doesn’t matter what year we have. 10 years from now other games, as you said, might die down because there’s nothing new there; there’s no new talents. This makes it very exciting for me.
We have a Premier League, Champions League, Championship; you know all the different leagues for football and all sorts. Do you think there’s ever going to be a similar kind of league for FIFA?
I personally hope that the Premier League will make a move into FIFA, that would probably be the first step as well, because that would be a real boom to the whole industry. I’m in the Premier League has the biggest exposure worldwide with billions of people watching. The second the Premier League creates a league, like eMLS say, the game itself will go through the roof more and more people will join the club. I really hope that they will make that move because I think that’s the cherry on the top.
Yeah I think you’re absolutely right. Manchester City at the moment are trying to focus on creating an esports team themselves. If every team in the Premier League created their own esports team that would be great, especially for the Premier League itself. If other places started doing it we could see a drastic change in actual areas that aren’t in the Premier League. For example, places like Hull. They’re not currently in the Premier League but maybe their esports team gets all the way up there in esports which shows the drastic change in areas and player skill.
There’s definitely a market for every football team to go out there and be successful in other venues and obviously FIFA is a great one. I wouldn’t say that the second Premier League clubs start e-gaming I wouldn’t say they would restrict themselves to FIFA at all. My former Club, Schalke, they had FIFA but I think they’re also very active with Fortnite and with Overwatch, I believe, even League of Legends. There is a market out there. Teams realise the potential of that market because what they see, I guess, is that they can approach so many more people, especially young people, and then in return attract them to the club which gives them a bigger fanbase.
I think a good example of this at the moment would be Dele Alli. He’s been doing a lot of streaming at the moment playing Fortnite and he’s been playing with other members from Spurs or the England squad. I think he’s doing a really good job boosting esports as well, especially for his clubs.
Exactly I think it would be just a logical step if you think about it; what reach you can have how, many people you can reach to boost your club. It doesn’t matter which e-game you’re playing at the end.
No matter who you are where you’re from you will be playing a game. Whether it is mobile gaming or anything like that, console, PC, anything. Everybody is a gamer in their own way.
So for our final question, are there any other games that have grabbed your attention recently? I know Fortnite at the moment is really big, I don’t know if that managed to grab your eye, or anything that has been recently announced at E3?
We are glimpsing into the future, but we’re really focusing on what we’ve got right now. Maybe in half a year or one year from now I’m not going to invest in too much time in terms of Fortnite or Overwatch. I’m aware that there’s space out there, but If I’m starting of with 3 major titles and not enjoying it? I have a big passion for FIFA and I have a big passion for football, obviously, because I’m a player myself. I want to start with that and then I want to grow the brand continuously and then we can look into expanding the brand and get more talent in. Now we have four players.We’re just about to sign an American player, which is amazing. So right now I’m trying to get more players for FIFA to have like a worldwide presence. I think I’m pretty well spread out right now with Shanghai, Europe and America, which is already global I believe. I want to give the venue to, not only top talent, but also emerging talent; to expose themselves, to become better. Obviously we have a team that works with them, and be a venue for those guys. As I said, if they can make a living out of it, because it’s really possible with the amount of people with an interest in the gaming industry, then I have achieved my goal …