Wooden spoon holders ATK Mohun Bagan in the inaugural edition of EISL have done exceptionally well this season. The Mariners are currently seventh on the points table, just two points away from a playoff spot. They have won as many matches in this campaign as they won last time.
Vignesh Balaji has been one of the main reasons for his change of fortune. Vicky, who has previously been a part of the Indian e-national team, has looked home despite competing in the EISL for the first time.
In conversation with Yasho Amonkar of Sportskeeda Esports, Vignesh talks about taking it one game at a time, what is the importance of goal difference in the later stages of a FIFA tournament like this, and how he compares to ATK Mohun Bagan’s offseason in the world. How to emulate on-field success. FIFA Export.
“Goal difference in FIFA plays a big role in last two gameweeks of EISL”: Vignesh
Q) After not being a part of the inaugural edition of EISL, you came back with a bang by winning the qualifiers against ATK Mohun Bagan. How nervous were you at that time considering it was a final qualifier?
Vignesh: Well, participating in EISL is a big challenge. The stakes are high, and the pressure is always on you. I have always wanted to compete in the EISL and give my best. I definitely didn’t want to miss this chance this time.
Q) Although the Mariners haven’t spent much time in the top half of the EiSL table, there is still a chance to qualify for the playoffs. What will be your and Afnan Amin’s game plan in the last few matches?
Vignesh: Afnan and I want to keep things simple and play one-on-one games. We still have a few games to play. We are keen to win both the games and make it to the playoffs.
Q) ATK Mohun Bagan won the ISL final a month back. Does this inspire you and Afnan to emulate your success in the world of FIFA eSports?
Vignesh: Yes, ATK Mohun Bagan winning ISL this time is a real inspiration for us. Afnan and I want to live up to those same expectations, perform equally well off the field in the world of FIFA eSports, and lift the trophy here.
Q) After defeating Jamshedpur FC in Match 40, your team entered the top 6 of the EISL standings. With each fixture being a cup final of sorts, how do you stay calm and focused during the match?
Vignesh: As I mentioned, we don’t want to take on too many things at once and put pressure on ourselves. We want to take it one match at a time and focus on it and our target will be to win that particular match.
Q) A major highlight this season for Mohun Bagan was defeating East Bengal FC. What was the pressure going into the match considering your team had lost both the derbies last season?
Vignesh: Well, you know that East Bengal FC are our arch rivals. Last season we lost both the matches to them, we had to beat them at any cost.
It was a very exciting game of FIFA, and this time we didn’t miss our chance and sealed the victory comfortably.
Q) Your team’s goal difference is +3, which is more than Chennaiyin FC, Hyderabad FC and Kerala Blasters FC. Do you think goal difference could separate the sixth and seventh placed teams at the end of the league stage?
Vignesh: Certainly, goal difference in FIFA plays a big role in the last two game weeks of the eISL. It is the same for all teams.
Now is the time to avoid conceding cheap goals as it can reduce the goal difference which could come in handy in the playoff race.
Q) The FIFA eSports scene has been making great strides in India over the past few years. Where do you see things going in the next 2-3 years?
Vignesh: In the last two to three years, India has been nowhere near FIFA’s eSports scene. The new FIFA rankings for the same came out a few days back and India is now ranked 15th in the world, which is a huge achievement for us.
In about two to three years from now, India may be among the top 5 countries in the world, and we e-athletes will make India proud at any cost.