Article written by Iain Fenton, a sports journalist at CompareLotto.
Just over a year ago, the Times of Malta published a piece on Kurt Fenech, Malta’s best FIFA player. A year on and Malta’s best FIFA player has become the self-proclaimed world’s best FIFA player.
But Kurt’s esports career has not always gone to plan. In 2016, EA Sports announced that FIFA would take its first footsteps into the esports world.
EA Sports’ FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Series allowed millions of FIFA Ultimate Team players from around the world to compete for a top prize of over $1 million. Any FIFA Ultimate Team player had the chance to qualify for ‘regional finals’.
Regionals were held all over the world. Only, for 22 year-old Kurt, this proved to be a problem, not because of his skill level, which was easily high enough – he qualified for the Madrid regional finals – but because of his nationality.
In a reddit post, Kurt described how he was robbed of the opportunity to compete for the $1 million prize because of where he lived. Malta was not on EAs registered list of countries that were eligible to compete.
Kurt was able to play the game and qualify for the regionals, but he was not able to have a shot at the $1 million prize itself.
“Malta was not an eligible country on EA’s list for whichever reason,” Kurt explains to the Times of Malta.
“The only reason Rocky (Real name Corentin Chevrey, the winner of FIFA 17’s Ultimate Team Championship Series) won is because I wasn’t there.”
Figure 1 Kurt’s online FIFA 17 record was amongst the best in the world
EA have not commented on the reasons why Maltese nationals are not eligible to compete.
But Kurt expects EA to address the issues in regards to the Maltese eligibility issues upon the release of FIFA 18.
“Once EA give me the go ahead I will take over. We’ve been in touch but I can’t 100% confirm it yet. It was a mistake from their end and they’re trying to fix it for me for FIFA 18.”
Supremely confident in himself, Kurt quit his job as a sports betting odds compiler in order to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time FIFA professional.
Earlier this year, Kurt won £3000 for a runner-up finish at the Gfinity ‘Play Like a Legend’ Grand Final in London.
“I’ve been dominating some Gfinity cups but they’re not tournaments of course, says Kurt.
Supposedly, FIFA 18 is set to be EA Sports’ real attempt at turning FIFA into an esport that can rival the likes of Dota 2 and League of Legends for popularity.