I sat down with Manchester City's professional FIFA players, Shaun "Shellzz" Springette and Ryan Pessoa to discuss FIFA 21's up-and-down year when it comes to content and gameplay. Shellzz and Ryan talk about what they would take from FIFA 21 into future titles, their favorite promotions and cards this year, and their most underrated cards.
DBLTAP: Thanks for joining me today. FUT as a growing esports scene is on the rise, but as we go through multiple games we're getting new meta tactics, new promotional cards and more. How do you like FIFA 21 compared to previous years through multiple patches and the switch to next-gen consoles?
Shaun "Shellzz" Springette: I think, for me, not going to lie FIFA 21 isn't my favorite FIFA. The overall gameplay should make it be a good FIFA, but the way it's played right now especially with five at the back it's tough to play as a competitor. It's in the lower ranks for the past five years that I've competed. But, for me it doesn't matter. I need to find a way to compete and be one of the best. The way I look at things is someone has to be winning these tournaments, so why can't it be me? I just need to keep working hard and find a way to make it suit my style.
Ryan Pessoa: I wouldn't say it's my favorite, but it's not my least favorite. I honestly prefer FIFA 21 to 19 and 20. However, it's still a FIFA where it's difficult. There are some fundamentals that could have the game end up relying on luck which you can't influence. It's just down to the game which is unfortunate, but it happens. As I've matured over the years, I've stopped thinking about what an ideal FIFA would be, and just focus on the current game and how I can improve.
DBLTAP: This FIFA has been interesting to say the least. The launch patch was very popular. Then, more and more updates starting rolling out and players moved to next-gen. There have been conversations among players and content creators about previous titles. People wondering if we should have more of a FIFA 19 style with La Croqueta and El Tornado spams across the pitch, or should it be more defensive with FIFA 20's Drop Back, one depth style. Is there anything in particular that you would take from this FIFA title to future entries?
SS: I think the skill cancelling is quite an interesting mechanic. Of course, there are some overpowered skill moves, but I do like the idea of it. It allows you to have some more freedom going forward. Like the La Croqueta cancel and the McGeady cancel. They're not too overpowered, but when used in the right time they're effective. The stepovers and stuff like that weren't for me and the bridge skill is kind of crazy. With these skill moves, you know where they're going but you can't do anything to stop them. But, yeah the skill cancelling.
RP: In all honestly, my ideal FIFA is based around fundamentals, instead of new mechanics being added to the game. I'd rather be able to dribble through players with left-stick dribbling rather than having to do elasticos, stepovers, La Croqueta, anything like that that. This year, I wasn't initially a fan of skill cancelling, but now I've added it to my gameplan. I do enjoy the manual heading aspect for shooting is really good. For passing, if it was semi-assisted it might be a bit better. In FIFA 19, you could loop a cross to the back post to CR7 or Mbappe, bang, goal. It's going in no matter what. This year, you need to have to aim it, sometimes you have to time it green, you have to angle it correctly, be wary of goalkeeper positioning. It adds a skill element to crossing and heading.
Manchester City's Shellzz and Ryan Pessoa Discuss FIFA 21 Gameplay, Favorite Cards This Year, and More
DBLTAP: One of the most exciting aspects of FIFA Ultimate Team are the new cards that are released every year. In FIFA 19, it was Prime Icon Moments that completely changed the game. This year, we've gotten Rulebreaker items, Freeze cards and the new What If promotion is currently ongoing. What's been your favorite promotion this year and your favorite card? Maybe a new Icon like Ferenc Puskas?
SS: The best promotion is either Headliners or Prime Icon Moments in Icon Swaps 2. Of course, not all of us can get our hands on that R9 on the PlayStation side. If you get your hands on him you're a lucky man. Headliners are really good, especially when they get upgrades. Cards like Theo Hernandez are really good. I'm really looking forward to FUT Birthday when they upgrade skill move and weak foot stars on players. For a favorite card, it's Team of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo.
RP: FUT Birthday for me is the best promotion of the year, it hasn't come out yet but that's the best for me. Last year, we had that Allan Saint-Maximin and Kylian Mbappe with that five-star/five-star. They were ridiculous. I always look forward to Team of the Year. There are some cards that are unobtainable because of price for casuals, but for us it's our job. We have to have the best players to be in the best position to succeed. TOTY cards can do things other cards can't. The heightened stats that they have change the game. Prime Icon Moments as well, R9, if anyone can get a hold of him they are a special player and special person.
SS: He has him by the way...
RP: Haha, yeah. I've managed to get him. He's definitely the best player I've used. The 96 version is still very good. I don't know what it is about the 97 version, but he feels lightning quick. The only player who feels as fast is Team of the Year Mbappe.
DBLTAP: Have you noticed any difference in his work rates? 94 and 96 R9 are Medium/Low, but you mentioned the 97 is medium/medium.
RP: In all honesty, no. In previous years, I remember work rates were very important. For example, I couldn't use a CB that was High/Medium. So like, Sergio Ramos, unless it was TOTY Ramos, I couldn't use his card because he pushed too far up the field. As Ultimate Team has progressed, work rates aren't that important with instructions and creative/manual runs being introduced.
DBLTAP: Speaking on Manchester City cards in FUT, I feel like Kevin De Bruyne, one of the best midfielders and players in the world, got done a bit dirty with this TOTY card this year. In previous years, his TOTY items were on another level. We've also gotten cards like the Flashback Sergio Aguero. What's been your favorite Man City card in FIFA 21?
SS: It's tough because of the restrictions, so we can't really use all the players we'd want to use. And we're only allowed one TOTY item in our squads. KDB did get done dirty. His stats aren't that good as Bruno Fernandes, so he makes it into the team. The City defenders are really good. The new Zinchenko card is very good at left back. The in-form Kyle Walker at CB is one of the best in the game. The Road to the Final Joao Cancelo is also great. Even Ederson in goal. Kicking is so important this year, especially when Team Press is activated, Ederson is great for that.
RP: Echoing what Shellzz said, De Bruyne, in my opinion is the best midfielder in the world. However, in Ultimate Team, he hasn't been given the card he deserves. I don't know, maybe they forgot. It's still a great card, but still with the restrictions I go with Bruno Fernandes. Pinpointing a specific Manchester City card, it's that in-form Kyle Walker. He was part of one of the first TOTW squads so no one has him as a red pick. He fits perfectly in the restrictions and hard links that Cancelo. Ederson is still great, but I'm hit-and-miss with goalkeepers. I still use him occasionally, but I interchange him with Icons like Edwin Van Der Sar and Peter Schmeichel.
DBLTAP: Final bit, what's your most underrated FUT card this year?
RP: I've got it right away. There was an SBC that came out earlier in the year. Klaiber, his card is ridiculous. His stats are really good. He was only like, 80,000 coins, maybe even less. He could've even been a better card because PSV and Ajax drew for the Showdown card.
SS: I missed out on that one, I don't know why I didn't do that card. I live and regret everyday when I play against that card. I can't really think of someone I've used, but if I had to pick it would definitely be that Klaiber card.
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