Mike will be representing New York Red Bulls in the eMLS Image: Mike LaBelle/ Red Bull
Mike LaBelle is right at the centre of eSports evolution in the US or, rather, he always was. LaBelle recently made news after becoming the first eSports player to be signed by MLS club New York Red Bulls. He will be representing the team at the eMLS- the recently-announced FIFA 18 gaming league which will mirror Major League Soccer and include MLS teams.
However, even before his association with RBNY, Mike had already carved out his own space in global eSports and is possibly the most well-known face from US in the world of FIFA gaming. He first broke onto the scene after reaching the FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC) in 2007 and there was no looking back since.
Apart from his pedigree on the pro gamer circuit and the fact that he is a Red Bull athlete, LaBelle is famous for his FIFA content on YouTube and is a hit with budding FIFA gamers, who follow his videos to learn the game. He already has more than 285,000 subscribers on Youtube and around 70,000 followers on Twitch.
T2 Online caught up with the star from Houston, Texas, to bring forth his journey to becoming a FIFA royalty and pick up a few tips along the way.
How does it feel to be a New York Red Bulls?
I'm super stoked to be at the forefront of the eMLS and to be partnered with RBNY. We share the same vision in terms of the progression of eSports.
When did you first start gaming?
I started playing video games in when I was 7 or 8 years old. I went to my first professional event in 2006 (FIWC).
What are the key necessities for a person to hone professional success?
I think in each FIFA it's important to have the correct balance of defense, composure, and being clinical if you want consistent success.
Tell us about your first ever professional game.
I had a lot of emotions! It was my first step into a new world of competition.
What are some key achievements in your career?
Winning the FIFA Interactive World Cup North American Regional in 2008 was very special for my progression. I was able to prove that I was ready to compete at the highest level.
Tell us about the ups and downs of your gaming career, and how did you cope with them?
Certain FIFA titles are better than others in terms to catering to what you do well in FIFA. So being able to adapt each year to play towards the meta is always a challenge. I just try to keep my foundation strong while introducing adjustments each year. It's nice to able to speak with or practice against friends also in order to build confidence.
How many hours should one practice daily?
It's good to play FIFA at least 4-5 days a week in my opinion in order to stay fresh. I would recommend playing in 2-3 hour sessions during these days.
Is watching gameplay videos necessary to succeed in the professional e-gaming field?
You should watch others play FIFA to learn new skills or techniques in certain areas of the pitch. I would recommend re-watching your matches in FIFA also if you want to be involved in the competitive scene.
What are your favourite leisure activities?
Traveling, and playing sports in real life are both of my major leisurely activities. I've been able to see so much of the world through opportunities with FIFA, and I'm extremely grateful for that.
Do you have any tips for the fans who follow you to learn the game?
My advice to master the basics! The defense, the passing, the dribbling, and movement.
You can check out Mike's YT channel here.