Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar have played out several A-League blockbusters, but on Thursday they’ll create a new piece of history in the first ever E-League match.
The Victory’s Mitch ‘ALCATRAZZ_2025’ Austin will face Brisbane’s E-League star James ‘iCripsy’ Williams from 8pm AEDT in a FIFA 18 Xbox game that’s already drawing attention.
While A-League fans may be interested to see how Victory winger Austin fares when it comes to the electronic pitch, even more E-League supporters may tune in to watch Williams.
Williams has over 10,000 followers on Twitch who regularly watch his live streams, and thousands more fans who follow him across Twitter and Youtube.
In fact, his combined 15,000 social media fans eclipses Austin’s 14,000 followers across Twitter and Instagram.
However, the players’ fan base won’t have any bearing on the outcome of their match when they kick-off the E-League on Thursday night.
E-League competition points will be on the line when Williams and Austin clash in a 12-minute match on Xbox before their teammates later face-off on PlayStation 4.
Later in the night, Williams and Austin’s teammates will face-off on PlayStation 4, with the club who scores the most goals over the two games taking all three points.
Both Williams and Austin have proven they’re among the best players in Australia after performing week-in week-out on FIFA Ultimate Teams, but Brisbane already has an advantage.
“I’m not sure what to expect. I usually play on the PlayStation, but have switched over to the Xbox, so I actually haven’t played against any of the Xbox players,” Austin told E-League.com.au.
“Last week I bought FIFA [on Xbox] so I’ve been having a few practice games with Mo - my E-League teammate.
“I’m not too sure how I’m going to do, I’m not going to big myself up. I just going to turn up and see how I go.”
However, a change of controllers won’t necessarily be a big hindrance for Austin.
The 27-year-old has had plenty of time to practice his FIFA skills after an ACL injury sidelined him this A-League season.
“Obviously because I’m injured at the moment, I’ve been able to play a fair bit so that should give me a bit of momentum going into Thursday,” said Austin.
“It’s a long process my injury, so obviously the club asking me to do it has helped me think about other stuff.
“Even when I was fit, when I heard about, I was pretty keen to be involved with the club and help promote it.”
He added: “Hopefully I can surprise a few people – Cripsy included - and prove to a few people that professional footballers can cut it with some of the pro FIFA players - as they like to call themselves.”
Despite his advantage on Xbox, Williams isn’t taking the match-up lightly.
“It’s a pretty big game,” said Williams.
“For a competitive game; not very often do you have to opportunity where you’ve got someone from the sport versing someone that’s just playing the video game.
“Not often do you get that in eSports, and I think it’s a really unique opportunity.”
He added: “I have never played him [Austin] before, but I’ve seen a little bit of his work on FIFA last week.”
“He was playing against Mo [Austin’s E-League teammate], but not enough for me to learn his tips and tricks. I think he kept all his tactical information behind closed doors.”
Williams continued: “I don’t think he seems too comfortable, I’ve been on Xbox since 2007 so I have a little bit of an advantage there but it’s going to be interesting. One decision can make or break a game.”
However, the two-legged tie will come down to the two players’ teammates – Mouad ‘MuadZwed’ Zwed (Melbourne Victory) and Dino ‘ol_Mate_’ Flocco (Brisbane Roar) - who are both well-known FIFA players in their own rights.
Austin said about Zwed: “He’s [Mo] got a pretty good reputation on the FIFA scene. He’s beaten a lot of players on the PlayStation side, which is why I chose to give up my PlayStation status.”
“I think a lot of the pros will be more worried about coming up against him than he will coming up against them.”
Williams said about Flocco: “He’s playing really good FIFA at the moment, I’m watching his weekly updates and how he’s going in the weekend leagues and he’s got some serious talent and I just hope I can pull my end of the bargain.”
“You’ve got to play your game and cheer on your teammate and close out the games.”
With their excitement growing as the first round approaches, Williams and Austin have also been in contact with each other, and also exchanged words publically over social media.
“He’s been giving me a bit about Brisbane all week especially after they beat us last week,” said Austin.
“I think I’m going to have to pull out all the stops to get a Victory win. Redeem ourselves after we lost last week. I haven’t heard the end of it on Cripsy’s Twitter.”
Williams said: “There needs to be kind of good banter, you’ve got to have good fun and got to have a laugh and never take anything personal. I think that’s the goal - never take anything personally.”
Austin is also raring to make the most of his E-League opportunity.
“Being able to take part in it is something really cool for me.”
“The main thing for me is promoting the E-League and helping it promote the A-League as well because the eSports scene is massive.
“Me playing in it and helping get some of the younger audience to be interested in the A-League is a bit of a win for me.”
The E-League starts Thursday at 8pm AEDT. Visit the E-League Twitch channel here.