Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, FIFA professional Aman Seddiqi is a long way from home.
In February 2017, Roma announced the signing of three professional gamers to represent the club in eSports competitions, including Aman. Before he knew it, Aman was flying over the Atlantic Ocean, to Italy, where he was announced as a new signing at a press conference in Rome.
Now with his feet firmly on the ground, we spoke to Aman about his new life as a Roma player, FIFA and the present and future of the esport.
Interview by Iain Fenton
Iain: Although it’s growing in popularity in the States, it still feels unusual to come across an American who enjoys soccer so much. Is it your favourite sport?
Aman: Contrary to popular belief. The USA has a strong soccer presence. Most Americans stem from immigrants, and soccer is the biggest sport in the world. My dad has always been a big fan of it and he passed on that love for the game to me. Soccer has to be my favourite sport. I do enjoy other sports as well, but nothing compares to an early morning game with a little dew on the grass. Atlanta recently started an MLS club, and the fan support has been insane, selling out the stadium with 55,000 people.
Where were you when you got the call from Roma that they wanted to sign you? What was your reaction?
I was on my Xbox playing FIFA. It was an unreal feeling! A few days later I found myself on a plane to Rome, and it all felt like a dream. Meeting the legend Totti and all the Roma players just added to the insanity. My family were proud for sure. It’s a huge achievement to be able to say that I am an AS Roma player.
FIFA and esports by numbers.
- BBC reports that the esports market is set to generate £1bn in revenues and an audience of 600 million by 2020
- FIFA came in 11th as the most watched eSport on Twitch, with an audience of 500,000 views in February alone
- Television broadcasters such as BT Sports and Fox Sports have also picked up the broadcasting rights to televise FIFA 17 tournaments to their audiences
Do you think FIFA and esports will help the sport grow in the US?
One hundred percent yes. FIFA and EA have been a big part of soccer’s growth in the USA. I believe when MLS clubs get involved with esports there will be a lot of crossover from fans around the world.
What do you think the future holds for both yourself and esports? Can you see FIFA reaching the same popularity as a game like League of Legends?
I think the future growth of FIFA as an eSport is on an exponential level. The crossover from real soccer and the esports version will make it easy for fans of clubs to support competitive players just as much as traditional ones. There will be huge names coming out of the FIFA scene. If EA can manage things correctly, it can easily be the biggest eSport in the world.
In terms of the game itself, what do you think EA must work on to make it more esports friendly?
I believe the AI does quite a bit to help players. That is something EA will need to work on for future iterations to bring about the right balance.
During regional events, you were able to see who your opponent was using on defence. Adding that transparency to the game online would be a huge game changer. That it was present in the regionals tells me that they know what it takes to present an eSports game for the whole world to enjoy.
Is EA doing enough beyond just the in-game elements, such as promoting it as an esport?
They do the best they can. There has been a negative stigma with feedback from the community. This year EA has listened and acted when the community speaks. I’ve been very pleased with the support so far. The only piece of criticism would be to get things done quicker.
Do you use coaches or anything to help your FIFA game? Does Roma have professionals who could aid you in this area?
I coach myself. FIFA is mainly a mental game. Once you get to a certain point regarding skill that’s when the little mistakes change games. If you’re focused and mentally strong then that’s what will win you tournaments.
I do anything I can to get better, so I’m open to conversations from everyone at Roma. I haven’t had the chance to speak with any Roma coaches just yet, but it’s something to consider going forward.
Reasons for esports’ rise in popularity:
- streaming, online broadcasting and other esports content on Twitch and YouTube platforms;
- support from traditional sports leagues and teams;
- Affiliate link: An increase in the market for fantasy sports and eSports betting;
- attention from the side of mainstream media and talent agencies;
- official recognition of eSports at a national level
Have you played anyone from the Roma football team on FIFA?
When I went to Rome for the signing, I played with my teammate ‘Poacher’ and Szczesny against my other teammate ‘Insa’ and El Shaarawy. We lost the first game and won the second and third. They impressed me, to be honest. It was a tonne of fun playing with the guys.
What can we expect from you going forward?
Winning tournaments. That’s my number goal and the only thing I see myself doing. Trophies, medals, plaques and cheques.
You can get in touch with Aman via his Twitter channel here.
Follow Aman’s FIFA journey via his Twitch channel here