It’s been over 20 years since David Platt graced the cover of FIFA International Soccer – the very first FIFA, released for Sega Mega Drive in 1994 – and we’ve been enthralled and amazed by the virtual beautiful game ever since. As the game has gradually improved, and overtaken Pro Evolution Soccer as the top footy sim, people have joined the series in their droves.
Millions of people around the world play FIFA every day, but we reckon they all fall into 10 pretty distinct categories. Some of these might be your mates, others might be online warriors you’ve fallen foul to over the years. But somewhere along the line, if you’re a long time FIFA player, you’ve come across each of these players somewhere in your virtual football career.
Player trait: Violent eruptions
Usually found: Online, ordering a new controller
FIFA often brings out the worst in us, and we all react to that in different ways. Whilst some of us have the temperament to laugh off a tough loss before having a cry in the toilet, not everyone has that sort of self-control. FIFA's best ragers find a way to erupt at everything that happens on the pitch, even when they actually score goals. Typically, goals against them result in broken controllers, as signified by a complete lack of activity from the resulting kick-off. Note: Volcanoes have been known to evolve into Quitters mid-match – be aware of this.
Player trait: Unbridled smugness
Usually found: Doing step-overs in their own penalty box
You’re far more likely to encounter this player online than on the sofa next to you – anyone who displays this level of self-satisfaction should be quickly deflated and ejected from your house. Tricksters think they’re better than you because they’ve mastered the art of the skill move – all 54 of them – and they’re not shy about showing off each and every one of them, on every part of the pitch. A scramble on the goal-line? Perfect time for a rabona. Through on goal? The trickster won’t just casually beat your keeper, they’ll also fake the tap-in just to make you look doubly inept. They’re the Zlatans of online play, but with no class.
Player trait: Dishonesty
Usually found: Making you look stupid
“Oh, sure, I’ll play. What’s this game about? Is it co-op or are we trying to kill each other?” This sort of statement should always raise suspicion. See also, “I’ve never played on PS4/Xbox One [delete as applicable], so I’ll probably be really bad.” These people are liars, and they’re out to rob you of your self-esteem and occasionally your hard-earned money. Worst of all, they’ll pretend to be your friends, often for years, just to worm their way into your inner circle, before stabbing you in the back. Et tu, Brute?
Player trait: Ball retention
Usually found: Playing Football Manager
Now, for all it’s simulation chops and graphical realism, FIFA is just a game. It’s a pretty football game that squeezes 90 minutes of football into 12 minutes, so naturally, the idea is to play attacking football, score goals and have a jolly good time. Sounds logical, right? Apparently, not everyone sees it this way. The Tactician spends a solid half hour tweaking their line up, before winning possession and manipulating the ball around their back four for 30 in-game minutes. A 0-0 draw usually ensues, or, god forbid, they win 1-0 when you start hurling players at the ball and give up a last minute goal.
Player trait: Fear of failure
Usually found: Lurking in the depths of online matchmaking
Ah, the Quitter. Perhaps the one player you knew would be on this list somewhere. Again, we’d like to stress – FIFA is just a game. There are 22 little men on a pitch running after a ball and trying to kick it into a big net, with one man making sure everyone obeys the rules and none of these things are real. Try telling that to the Quitter. When things are looking bleak – say, 2-0 down around the 75 minute mark – out comes the power cable. “You lost connection with the opponent,” says FIFA. The rage quit is complete, and the Quitter skulks away, still undefeated, but beaten once again.
The Incredible Sulk
Player trait: Silent fury
Usually found: Gently weeping
FIFA often proves to us that even the nicest, most gentle people can turn into total whinge-machines. A cousin of the Volcano, the Incredible Sulk also reacts badly to decisions that go against them mid-game, but symptoms are displayed in a remarkably different way. Rather than blowing up, the Sulk implodes, creating a black hole that whisks all positivity out of existence and replaces it with poor excuses (example: “the glare on the TV is putting me off”) and lots of sighing. Said black hole then leaves after one game, claiming it has “things to do.”
Player trait: Narcissus complex
Usually found: Looking through all his saved replays
A famous Motown legend once said, “it takes two, baby.” At the time, Marvin Gaye was referring to intangible, nonsense things like love, dreams and happiness, but surely had he lived long enough to see David Platt grace the cover of FIFA International Soccer, he would have sung a similar song about the need for both players to skip replays in online FIFA matches. It’s an integral part of the game, a pact that all players enter into when they ready up for a match. But a few vain individuals think the replays are there to be watched, and they should be treated with maximum disdain.
The Sunday League footballer
Player trait: Route one football
Usually found: Checking how tall his line-up is
This is less of a problem in FIFA 16, but in previous versions of the game, crosses and long balls could be ridiculously effective if you had a tall, strong target man to win aerial battles. Both in FIFA and real life, the more recent football landscape has been dominated by quick, short passing, but there was a time when a Sunday League hoof upfield would yield some very pleasing results. Indeed, whacking Peter Crouch up front, and having him nod on 30 or so long balls a game was a recipe for the upper echelons of FIFA’s online leagues just a few seasons ago. Thank god for tiki taka.
Player trait: Takes things too seriously
Usually found: Under your skin
Online matches are normally fairly quiet affairs. Win, lose or draw, you’re rarely confronted with anything other than your own voice, smugly asking the referee if he’s lost his glasses, or chastising your own useless players. But very occasionally, an opponent decides to jump on the microphone, and hit you with some grade A smack talk during your match. If you’re very lucky, this is followed up with them forgetting to mute said microphone, and having a pleasant conversation with a visiting family member about the weather. Probably the most satisfying of all the players to beat.
Player trait: Is definitely a massive cheat
Usually found: Cheating
It’s 1-1, 80 minutes in and things are tense. You and your opponent have cancelled each other out for much of the game, stifling each others attacks, and learning each others tricks and patterns. The stats sheet says you’re even on shots, tackles, cards, even completed passes. There’s no doubt about it – you’ve found your FIFA online doppelganger, and whoever wins, there’ll be nothing but respect and handshakes after the match. Perhaps you’ll add him as a friend. Now you’re in stoppage time. Your opponent is charging forward, and… wait, what? Why has everything gone so sluggish? It’s the curse of the mythical lag-switch – your doppelganger has hacked your connection, and plunged your team underwater, just to win an online football match that isn’t real. Obviously. Time to report this cheat.