Man City cut FIFA pro: Lessons from sport

News broke today that Manchester City have made some changes to their esports department, specifically sacking one of their underperforming players to replace him with a new face. While most of esports doesn’t care for FIFA, the game City are currently dipping a toe into, there is an interesting lesson about ruthlessness here to be had, especially in a scene where too often players are allowed to dine out on past glories.

Loyalty and fandom in esports are just as much a factor as in any other area where support is a thing, but there are times when the fans get a bit too attached to their players. However, never fear, as the world of professional sport is here to teach us all about how little rope a failing player is given before they are cut adrift, left to their own devices, and written off.

For those not in the know, this is another classic footballing story of English failure and German success. Kieran ‘KezBrown’ Brown announced his departure from the club via Twitter, having struggled to deliver this season, not only failing to qualify for any events but also not qualifying for the FIFA 18 FUT Champions Cup in Barcelona.

In his place comes German player Kai ‘Deto’ Wollin, a FIFA veteran who finished as runner-up at the 2017 FIWC Championship. Deto also has three other world championships to his name, and joins Danish player Marcus ‘Marcuzo’ Jorgensen at City. The Dane had a rather more successful FIFA 17 season than his English ex-colleague, with a second-place finish in his group at the Season 3 finals in Munich, first at FIFA Interactive Club World Cup and top 16 at the season finale in London.

So, KezBrown got basically one season at the top to prove himself, and is now out on his ear after not delivering. Compare this to the amount of time some Counter-Strike teams have given failing players, for example, and it seems utterly ruthless, but that is how you succeed in top-level sport, something City know all too well.

Part of the issue might be that in sport, players are nothing like as much of a focus for the fans. In esports the orgs don’t really mean as much, but the combination of history and locality means that a City fan cares about Manchester City, rather than any one player really. Certainly, the idea that the release of TaZ or Neo from a team like is a tragedy would be alien to a top sports team, who instead would probably view the time wasted with a poor roster as the real shame.

As teams grow and evolve, there will come a greater level of loyalty to the brand of course, but the lack of local outfits means that won’t ever really rival the sort of love a fan of Liverpool, Green Bay or Boca Juniors might have. Whether, in fifty years, the number of Optic fans that have handed their Scump tops down to their children changes that, we will have to wait and see, but for the time being most of the orgs are companies, not clubs, and the audience knows.

As for young Kez, he’ll be sad of course, but the next few years are going to see a lot of Premier League clubs invest in esports, and they’ll all start in FIFA, described by Paul ‘Redeye’ Chaloner as a ‘gateway drug’ for esports investors of that ilk. Players that leave Man City often get picked up by lower-level teams, and Kez will no doubt have more chances to prove his one year at the top was not indicative of his overall class, probably. If he doesn’t though, that’s sport, and increasingly esports too.