Luqman Haziq aka 'Fenrir' (left) during a FIFA event Image: Luqman Haziq
Malaysian FIFA player Luqman Haziq aka Fenrir hasn't turned an eSport professional just yet, but the world is already taking notice of the up and coming star. The 20-year-old has been turning heads in the FIFA community with his prodigious talent, and it just might be a matter of time before we see him going toe-to-toe with the biggest stars in the game on the biggest stage of them all — the Fifa eWorld Cup (formerly known as the FIFA Interactive World Cup).
Haziq recently won an online qualifying round to qualify for the FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) Champions Cup #1 in Barcelona, Spain on 26 -28 January, 2018, which takes him just two steps away from the Grand Finals of the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018. To put Haziq's achievement into context, he won 154 of his 160 qualifying games to qualify for the event, which is somewhat akin to regional qualifiers.
Haziq is the only Malaysian and the first player from the entire Southeast Asia to have qualified for the event this year. GamesBond, Malaysia's biggest gaming event organisers, have come on board to manage the prodigy, and expectations are sky high for the young man.
Haziq still has a mountain to climb if he intends to walk in the shoes of some of the legendary FIFA gamers like Rini, Vin Chew, Leo Mess, Shige and Amtuah, who have come out of Malaysia. But considering his ruthless talent, it would be unwise to bet against him. T2 Online caught up with the star-in-the-making and an ardent Lionel Messi fan to quiz him about his FIFA aspirations and the journey so far.
When did you first start Playing FIFA?
I started to play when I was 15 and FIFA 13 was the first FIFA that I played. Initially, it was just a hobby for me, but I started to take it seriously since last year (2016).
How many hours do you spend playing FUT (FIFA Ultimate Team) per day?
Since I’m still a university student, I have to arrange my schedule carefully so that I can strike a balance between studies and my FIFA career. Usually, I play around 1-2 hours on weekdays. During the weekend, I put more time into FIFA, which is around 6-8 hours per day.
How does it feel being the first Southeast Asian player to qualify for this year's FIFA eWorld Cup qualifiers?
I take it as a very interesting challenge and something that I’m looking forward to. It’s an honour for me to represent my country, Malaysia, let alone represent the whole Southeast Asia. I also get to meet and compete against the pro players that I respect and admire, which is a dream come true for me.
Did you buy FUT coins to make your team? (Gamers buy Player Packs using FUT coins to unlock players and skills to add to their team)
I haven't spent any real money on FUT so far but who knows, maybe in the future I will buy FIFA point so that I can upgrade my team faster.
Which is your favourite team in real life and in FIFA, and what is your favourite formation?
My favourite team in real life and FIFA has always been Manchester City FC. My favourite formation in Fifa 18 is 4-1-2-1-2(2) diamond and 4-3-2-1.
How did you cope with the immense pressure of winning most of the 160 games in a month?
I must admit that last month was one of the most intense months of my life. Thankfully, I have friends and family who supported me during that time. Thanks to them, I managed to stay calm and focused during the entire month. I would also like to thank GamesBond for becoming my manager to help me manage my upcoming eSports career path.
Do you have any tips for budding FIFA gamers?
Always stick to your gameplay no matter what happens. It’s okay if you lose a few games in FUT, what’s important is to learn from your losses so that you can come back stronger than ever.
How are you preparing for Barcelona?
Currently, I’m still trying out a lot of new players, formations and custom tactics since December is not a qualifying month. I also watch a lot of videos and streams from the other pro players.
Haziq will need to finish Top 8 from a pool of 64 gamers in Barcelona to progress to the Play-Offs in June 2018. Finishing in the Top 16 of the 64 players in the Play-Offs will qualify him for the Grand Finals.