eSports pro Leon Krasniqi: As a Gamer, you need mental strength
eSports are becoming more and more popular and professional. In 2018, the DFL became the first major league in real football to launch an eSports league. The Virtual Bundesliga Club Championship. Here, gamers from clubs in the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga compete against each other in singles and doubles matches within a league. One of them is Leon Krasniqi. The FIFA Pro competes for HSV in the VBL.
Hi Leon, you've been part of the HSV eSports team since 2019. How did you manage to become a professional eSports player?
In December 2018, I played in a scouting tournament of the HSV and was able to win the tournament at the Volksparkstadion. I then played my way straight to the forefront in the individual competition of the Virtual Bundesliga in my first year as an eSportsman for the HSV by becoming the German runner-up on PlayStation 4. Unfortunately, I had to admit defeat in the final against the later FIFA world champion "MoAuba".
You start for the HSV in the VBL. This year, 26 teams are playing in the VBL Club Championship. A new record. Do you think the league will become even more important in the future?
I hope that the VBL and therefore the VBL Club Championship will continue to grow and become more attractive. We players can contribute to this through professionalism and exciting and fair matches on the virtual pitch.
What is your personal preparation for a VBL matchday like?
Just like in professional football, we analyse our games together with our coach to see where there is still room for improvement. Of course, we also analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the upcoming opponents. Also internal and external training games in the days before the match day or for the warm-up on match day are part of the match preparation. Specialities, such as skill combinations that can be effective for our game, we discuss before a game day in the team.
Until last season the VBL was played in the 85 mode. Now EA has introduced the 90 mode. Does this change your game?
The change from 85 to 90 mode is good for the attractiveness of the VBL because we can now work with 5-star skills. Personally, I wouldn't have minded if the 85 mode would have stayed, because I got along very well with it. Nevertheless, I have been able to adapt well to the 90 mode so far and also perform successfully.
Besides the VBL, the Weekend League is especially important for you. Do you find it difficult to switch between Ultimate Team and the 90s mode in the VBL?
You have to make clear gradations there. The VBL is much more important for me compared to the FUT mode. Of course I want to be successful in FUT mode as well, but the focus is on the VBL competition as I said. Overall, I like both modes, so switching between them is not difficult for me.
In the FUT Mode of FIFA 21 there is an almost endless variation of card backs. Champions League, Freeze cards, TOTW, TOTY and so on. Isn't that a bit too much?
For me as an eSports player it's good to have so many options for the composition of my FUT team. As we have certain requirements for our event team, for example in FIFA Global Series qualifiers, it's helpful to have a wide range to choose from.
Many gamers are very emotional while gaming. Can you let your emotions out in the same way in professional eSports, or is it calmer in the professional sector?
Some eSports players need emotions to come back into focus, others do not. That's why you can't make a blanket statement in this area. Personally, I'm someone who hardly shows any emotions and I'm fine with that. As a professional eSports player, you need mental strength to push yourself to the limit for 90 minutes or more. Negative emotions can be an obstacle.
Who is your favourite player in FIFA 21?
Currently it's Cristiano Ronaldo.
Have you ever played against a professional footballer from the HSV team? If yes, how did it go?
I played against my teammates Niklas Heisen and Khaled Narey in FIFA 20 in a doubles match with Tim Leibold. There we were able to get a win, but also had to take a loss. Apart from that, I played once in 1vs1 in 85 against Sonny Kittel. Even though I won the game, Sonny proved that he can bring his offensive creativity in real football to the virtual pitch.
Finally, can you give our readers a tip on how to improve their "FIFA" skills?
I think it's very important to record your games every now and then and analyse them afterwards. This way you can discover mistakes in your defence or attacking behaviour and improve in the long run. In addition, I think the mental attitude during the games is crucial. Getting rattled by surprising situations or conceding goals can prevent you from putting in the best performance on the pitch.
Thank you very much for your time Leon.
If you want to learn more about Leon, head over to his Instagram channel here: