Team PlayX top dog Karthikeyan Behl after winning the AFGC FIFA tournament Image: AFGC Official
Kartikeyan Behl just won India its first FIFA tournament at the Asian Football Gaming Championship (AFGC) in Thailand. The new gaming pin-up hero, who was pretty tense before the event, told T2 Online, "Winning the FIFA championship for India was a big breakthrough, not only for me but for the entire e-sports community in the country. Now I’m sure there’s a bright future ahead."
Before becoming famous as a pro FIFA player, the newly crowned AFGC champ worked with GamingMonk as an organiser. During this stint, he was introduced to many pro FIFA players. Inspired by these gamers’ passion for the game, Kartikeyan decided to grab the controller himself and enter the professional ring. His first brush with success came when he won a local FIFA tournament in Delhi. Then he came to know about the AFGC FIFA tournament in August 2017, and, as they say, the rest is history.
We let Kartikeya narrate his journey to success and his future aspirations:
It was a long journey. After winning the Online Qualifiers, I was given a chance to represent India, thanks to my team PlayX. They’ve been always supportive of my goal. Before the tournament, I was pretty tense, given that I was still new to the international scene. The other competitors had a minimum of 3-4 years of experience playing professionally. All of them had participated in an international tournament at least once.
When I reached the venue, I met players from seven countries from the SEA region — Bangladesh, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri-Lanka, India and Thailand. Meeting so many top-rated players daily was delightful. Playing at the international level is different as the stakes are very high. You know a defeat would force you to go home empty-handed.
But I ignored the pressure and kept myself composed. It wasn’t about the grand prize, but rather about the whole process.
But as I say, success at such a level doesn’t come easily. The key is to practice as much as possible. Usually, for me, it’s a couple of hours a day to avoid burnout. But before AFGC, I left no stone unturned to give a tough fight to all my opponents. The urge compelled me to practice 7-8 hours on an average.
As for my training sessions, I used to call my friends over after coming back from work/college, and used to play a few games to warm up. Later, I competed against other players on various portals to find out my true abilities.
For AFGC particularly, I went to a lot of offline events in Delhi. When everything went wrong, “The Kick Off mode” against Classic 11 (Legendary) certainly showed me my capabilities.
Before winning the AFGC FIFA title, I started my professional journey by standing as the first runner-up in the Pro eSports League. Moving forward, I won the GFC Co-op title, stood third in Glued Reloaded, 3rd in PlayX FIFA 17 Launch Journey, 1st in SGTB FIFA Test, 1st in DTU FIFA test and ranked in the top 4 in FIFA Ultimate Championship.
Post the AFGC title, I’m now looking forward to ESWC this year and more such international events if the opportunity arises. The scene is better than before and much more competitive. You have to keep getting better.
As for leisure, I chill out with friends over a few games of FIFA and indulge in the usual banter surrounding Football. Speaking of football, I have been a Liverpool fan for around 7 years now, and my all-time favourite footballer is Xabi Alonso.
With inputs from Santanu Basu