Glenrothes teen Michael Fisher says that being forced to accept defeat as a youngster gave him the drive to become Scotland’s top Fifa gamer.
Michael, 19, is ranked number one in Scotland and is in the UK top five for Fifa 22 after a very successful season that included a ninth-place finish in a global series event in Stockholm last month.
As a pupil at Pitteuchar East Primary School he was introduced to gaming by his uncle James Fisher and older cousin Dillon Deganno, 26.
“I remember playing Pro Evolution Soccer when I was six years old,” Michael recalls.
“I was really bad when I was young. My uncle and friend never let me win, which helped me get better. Even now we talk about it and it did help me a lot.
“It’s good in all areas of life because it teaches you that you have to work hard to win. You can’t just be given it.”
Here Michael tells his Fifa story and outlines his plans for the future in the following sections:
- Gradual beginnings
- Big breakthroughs
- Criminology plan and gaming until 5am
Michael’s journey to becoming Scotland’s top Fifa player has been stop-start.
“But I got worse for the next few years,” Michael says. “The games didn’t interest me and I was not enjoying them.”
Two years later his interest was rekindled by the release of Fifa 20.
He impressed in the inaugural eScottish Cup and enjoyed success in friendlies against established professional players.
“I was in the top 100 in the world for weekend league,” he recalls. “That was when I realised I was getting good.”
‘I just play when I have to’
Getting good he may have been, but Michael was not – and is not – obsessive.
“I just play when I have to and when there is a big tournament I play five hours a day a few weeks before it,” he says.
“There will be breaks when I don’t play it for a week. I definitely need a break here and there to keep my sanity.”
This approach may be healthy but it put him at a disadvantage during the first Covid lockdown.
In December 2019 he qualified for the ePremier League, representing Norwich City.
The live finals were due to take place in April 2020 but did not go ahead due to restrictions.
Mindful of his mental health, and aware that the world had come to a near standstill, Michael took some time out of gaming – only for the finals to be swiftly arranged as an online event in August 2020.
“I hadn’t played the game for three months so it didn’t go great but it was a good experience,” Michael says.
“I was against Tass, who plays for Arsenal. He came back from 3-1 down to beat me 4-3. It was one of two games I lost to be knocked out.”
Finding the right balance between school, friends and gaming was a challenge made easier as Michael progressed through the education system.
“I struggled at first but in the sixth year you have more free time,” he says.
He left school with higher qualifications in English and business. After toying with the idea of studying film he went to Fife College and did an HNC in police studies.
Having more spare time in the past couple of years has given Michael the platform to step up his performance.
In spring last year, he again qualified for the ePremier League, this time representing Leeds United.
The encouraging performance “showed my level,” says Liverpool fan Michael, and he was duly rewarded.
‘This has been a couple of years in the making’
In the summer of 2021 he tweeted that he was a free agent. There was plenty of interest and in September he signed for LDN Utd on a salary.
He is under the guidance of fellow Scot, Adam Ryan, LDN’s Fifa team manager, who had been aware of Michael’s potential since he was 16.
“I represent their brand and I give them a certain percentage of my winnings,” Michael says.
In November he came second in a Fifa Global Series Euro qualifier. “This gave me a bigger name and made me realise I could really do this,” he reflects.
Four months later he was in the ePremier League finals again, this time representing Southampton. He travelled to London and finished ninth despite being drawn in a ‘group of death’ also containing Wolves, Crystal Palace and Leeds.
Arguably his biggest success – and most enjoyable experience in gaming – was the most recent.
In April he finished ninth for LDN Utd in an eChampions League event in Stockholm, Sweden. The 32 players contested a share of more than £225,000 prize money.
“I made a good amount of money and it was great,” he says.
“I stayed there for five days in a really nice hotel. I really enjoyed it.
“This has been a couple of years in the making and lived up to expectations and more.”
Criminology plan and gaming until 5am
The Fifa gaming season echoes the professional football timetable, with the final competitions at the end of May.
Michael, who lives with his grandparents Jim and Marie Fisher in Glenrothes, is taking a year out of education to concentrate on gaming for the 2022/23 season and then possibly do a criminology degree from September 2023.
He is prepared to continue to make sacrifices for the sake of his gaming career.
“I have always taken it seriously,” Michael says. “Even from a young age I thought ‘how good does that sound to be playing a video game for a living’ but it is more stressful than I thought it would be.
“You’re playing a tournament in a week’s time and you want to go out but you can’t because you need to practice the games.
“It is not great for your mental health but there are sacrifices in everything if you want to be the best.
“You put a lot of pressure on yourself. You want to do well against the best players and to make it in Fifa only the very best make it.
“It’s a hard thing to do. Getting to the very top is how it becomes sustainable. I will prioritise it for a few years. I am taking a gap year and then if I can do both I will have to see my best option,
“I am ranked in the top 10 in Europe. I am not seeing the benefits of that yet but next year I may get a lucrative contract. Outside the top 30 players people are not making a lot of money.”
‘I do things during the day and play at night’
One final thought. When you go to bed tonight consider that Michael is likely to still be awake, eyes glued to the screen, striving to become even better than the best in Scotland.
“I stay up all night, either playing or watching,” he says. “I will go to bed at 4am or 5am and I only wake up past midday. I do things during the day and play at night.
“It’s an ongoing joke but a lot of Fifa players and a lot of gamers have bad schedules.
You feel fatigued at times and it’s not healthy but that time at night – 3am – is my favourite time.
“It is so peaceful and quiet.”