18-year-old Sam “Poacher” Carmody is a UK FIFA pro who plays for Fnatic/AS Roma.
The British Esports Association caught up with him ahead of the Gfinity Elite Series’ inaugural FIFA tournament.
When did you first get into esports?
I’ve been gaming for ages, I started playing FIFA when I was like four years old. I started playing competitively when I was around 14/15. I played on the Gfinity website in tournaments, playing against all the really good pros like [British FIFA Interactive World Cup champion] Spencer “Gorilla” Ealing.
As I was playing them, that’s when I realised I could compete at that level and I could make something out of this.
We have a number of talented FIFA esports players in the UK. What attracted you to FIFA specifically?
I can’t really speak for anyone else, but for me I’ve always been into football from a young age. I’ve been playing FIFA for ages.
When I started gaming, FIFA was my first game, so I’ve just always been playing it as a hobby, and then it became career.
Who do you support?
Exeter City, that’s where I’m from.
What are your thoughts on FIFA as an esport and what lies ahead for it? EA increased the prize pools last year and there seems to be more buzz around it.
They’ve only really backed FIFA esports since about a year or a year and a half ago, and before that there wasn’t really a FIFA esports scene as such. So to see it grow this massively I think is crazy. Looking at the amount that it’s grown, I feel like it can only get better.
You’ll be taking part in the Gfinity Elite Series with Fnatic this month. What other tournaments are on your horizons?
I’m hoping to qualify for the FIFA eWorld Cup at some stage, maybe through Gfinity or another tournament. But yeah, I’m hoping to be there.
Then there’s other tournaments – I’m going to Germany in a few weeks, and you look at other tournaments that crop up, I’ll be competing in them as well.
There seems to be a bridge between traditional sports clubs and esports now, obviously with the likes of AS Roma working with Fnatic. What’s it been like to be a part of this trend? You’ve met football pros like Totti and Szczesny…
We met all the players back when we signed in February last year. To meet them was pretty crazy that actually happened.
Representing Roma and Fnatic is pretty mental really.
I feel like there’s room for a lot more clubs to get involved, and I feel like maybe soon we’ll see Real Madrid and Bayern Munich getting involved – I feel like other top teams can definitely come in. Maybe in a few years we’ll see.
What advice would you give to aspiring pro players and people wanting to get into esports?
How I got really good at FIFA was just by playing really good opponents – players who are better than you.
I’d also spend time watching YouTube videos and tutorials and that sort of thing. And then obviously putting loads of hours into it.
What would you say to people outside of esports, perhaps parents and teachers who haven’t heard of it before and are sceptical of it? Would you say it can offer viable career paths?
Yeah definitely. Obviously so many people are making a career out of it now – and why not. It’s a viable option.
If anything I feel like it’s just as viable as a footballer or that sort of thing. So I think if you put the hours into it, and you encourage a kid to do it, then it could actually happen.
What are your aims for the future? You’re 18 years old so could have a long career ahead of you.
Yeah, so my ultimate goal is to win a major event, whether that’s a World Cup or anything like that. For me that’s my goal.