Fnatic Roma’s Damian ‘Damie’ Augustyniak was crowned the champion of the West Ham esports Cup in the London Stadium last weekend after defeating his team-mate Conran ‘Rannerz’ Tobin in the final.
The tournament between 16 of the best FIFA players in the UK was flipped on its head when the Ultimate Team servers crashed, resulting in the event changing to head-to-head mode with every player using a boosted, 85-rated West Ham squad only.
Goal caught up with Damie shortly after the tournament to find out how he was feeling about winning a trophy so early into the season and how he adapted to the last minute format change...
Congratulations on your tournament win Damie, what does this victory mean to you? What’s going through your mind?
It was my first event of the year and I actually won it so I'm really happy about that, that was the first event of my career I've won so that's an even better feeling. From now I just want to keep it going, I don't want to stop after one event.
You and your Fnatic team-mates came into this tournament with the distinct advantage of having better FUT squads than most but you lost that advantage after the server issues. What was your reaction when the format changed?
I was really worried to be honest, I felt really confident going into this tournament with Ultimate Team but after changing mode I didn't know what to expect. I just tried to play my game and in the end I was playing really well so I'm really happy.
I overheard you earlier saying that the limit to three-star skills was really hard for you, how difficult was it to adapt to that?
Yeah, in Ultimate Team I have players like Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, Cruyff who can do every skill move in the game. You have to be able to adapt your play-style a little bit, and that's not only because of the West Ham players but the mode in FIFA as well. I think Rannerz and I adapted pretty well which is why we got into the final.
All the West Ham players were given the same 85-rated stats depending on their position but every player seemed to have a few preferences. Who was your favourite West Ham player to use this tournament?
Felipe Anderson by a mile, he was so good I really liked him. I think I will buy him on Ultimate Team too, he was the star of my team for sure and most of the teams here. Even though it's 85-rated, you still have stats like acceleration and sprint speed which change a bit. Anderson felt really quick and his dribbling was insane, which is why most people liked him.
Did you experiment much with different West Ham players during the tournament?
It's pretty funny, maybe not formation but I copied the players from Rannerz. I didn't know what to do with my team so after the first match I asked him how he was playing and from that point I played much better.
You said you still opted for your own formation, what formation did you choose and why?
I played 4-2-3-1 formation for the whole tournament, I recently switched to that on Ultimate Team as well. I'm trying to learn it as fast as I can. I think in this mode it was the best formation you can choose because you want to control the match and keep possession. For example, the gameplay in this mode is a little bit slower than in Ultimate Team so 4-2-3-1 is perfect for keeping the ball, playing slower and being patient.
Did playing against your team-mate in Rannerz relax you ahead of the tournament or did it put more pressure on you because of living in the same house with him?
It definitely relaxed me, we were both really calm before the final. We pretty much knew all about each other even if we haven't really played against each other much because of the different consoles. I watch his games so I know how he likes to play so we knew what to expect from each other. I also knew that he hasn't played on PlayStation at all so once I won 3-1 on Xbox, I knew it was over and there was no way he was going to win that.
Obviously you’re team-mates and friends with Rannerz so there was no animosity about the final but are you still going to hold this win over him back in the Fnatic house?
We will have a little bit of banter about the final in the house for sure. It was just funny for us that we were both in the final, there was no hard feelings.
Let's bring it back to the gameplay side of things. Something which played a huge part in the tournament today was the ability to move goalkeepers, which seemed to work either really well or cost players simple goals. What is your opinion on the strategy, did it work well for you this tournament? Is it the future of the competitive FIFA meta?
Overall, the goalkeeper movement is really tricky for everyone. You can either save a lot of chances or concede a lot of easy goals - it comes down to whether you win the mind games or not. This is the thing in FIFA that I think we needed at some point. It gives you the mental game advantage. For example, players were just shooting to the far post all the time and it was really difficult to do anything about that.
I think it's just more interesting for everyone to be honest. If you're not calm enough to move your keeper when you need to, you'll just concede easy goals all the time. It gives the advantage to more skilled and experienced players.
That's what timed-finishing was supposed to do for the game, right? Increase the skill gap in the game but it turns out so far that mechanic has been insignificant and controlling goalkeepers has been the big change
That's true, as it is now if we didn't have goalkeeper movement then finesse shots would be so good. People would just be shooting from everywhere, I think it's good. I wouldn't say the moving keepers mechanic is perfect, it needs changes too.
Finishing things off, you obviously have been on quite the journey within FIFA, joining the competitive scene late and making a name for yourself in Gfinity. What does it mean to you to have the first tournament win of your career?
Last year I was a really slow starter, I was actually really bad at this stage last year. From Gfinity I improved so much so it means a lot to me to be winning. This year I'm showing that I'm a really good player already, so early into the new game. It gives me more motivation that I can be the top player at the end of the season.