The biggest ever FIFA eWorld Cup Grand Final kicks off on Thursday 2 August and Australia’s E-League players are united behind ANZ representative Harry ‘Honey Badger’ Blackmore.
The dreams of millions of FIFA players become reality for one ultimate champion at the global esports showcase, as the world’s finest FIFA 18 gamers clash at London’s iconic O2 Arena between August 2-4.
It’s not only pride at stake for the world's elite 16 Xbox One and 16 PlayStation 4 players. More than 20 million challengers started out in the Global Series event in November, and the last player standing in London will receive $337,000 in prize money.
With the rapid growth of esports around the world, a newly established E-League launched in February 2018. Although no E-League entrants made it to the Grand Final this time out, the Aussie contingent will be barracking for one of their own, according to 2018 Brisbane Roar e-player James ‘Cripsy’ Williams.
“Honey Badger is a staple of our community,” said Cripsy. “Every single person, whether they like him or not in terms of if they’d played him and lost to him – which usually happens - they get behind this man.
“Everyone is going to be watching this man all over the region.
“This is the crème de la crème. This is as big as it can get in esports in the world.
“Who’d have thought the O2 Arena would be where we’re at? This time last year I don’t anyone would have thought that – it’s going to be massive.”
Will the title be heading towards the Tasman?
New Zealander Harry Blackmore, whose gaming tag is ‘Honey Badger’, competes in the PS4 competition for Team FUTWIZ and is ranked 12 in the world. A presenter on the E-League’s 2018 coverage, he is ANZ’s sole representative at this year’s finals, coming out of the ‘Rest of the World’ division.
After battling through qualifying tournaments online and at live events in Barcelona, Manchester and Amsterdam – the big question is how will Honey Badger fair against the top players from Argentina, Japan, Germany, Brazil, and Canada, among other keen gaming countries.
“He’s incredibly talented and a lot of the opponents out there wouldn’t have seen a lot of him because he’s from New Zealand,” said Cripsy.
This man is there for a reason – top 16 in the world on PlayStation – he just needs to be on his game.
“The game is won or lost in the mind. He’s got a fantastic mentality and that’s something a lot of players at that top level can learn from.“It’s about getting your head down and the luck may fall your way, sometimes you need a little bit of luck.
“For him, the mind needs to be strong and keep focusing on his objective – one game at a time.”
First, Honey Badger. Who's next?
By qualifying for the FIFA eWorld Cup, Honey Badger has become a trailblazer for the region and Roar gamer Cripsy believes there are now E-League players primed and ready to make the leap to the top tier.
“If this isn’t an indication, I don’t know what is,” added Cripsy.
“Marcus Gomes, Samer [Elbadar], Rick [Tran] , Josh Wood have competed on the world stage and absolutely no shame in their efforts.“This is the beginning, and things like the E-League are so important because it’s gives players the opportunity to step up. It gives people a reason to play and get competitive and really push to the next level.”
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