If you’re an avid Adelaide United supporter, you’d be remiss not to recognise the O’Doherty name. With Jamie’s brother Jordan currently plying his trade in Adelaide United’s first team, the family are entirely engrossed in the beautiful game. And at just 18-years-old, Jamie finds himself in a fascinating tango, signing for his brother’s club Adelaide United as their Xbox One representative in the FIFA 18 e-League, all the while playing first team football in the state’s second division — a balance that doesn’t come easily.
O’Doherty, who’s also known as FUTWIZ Jamie, said the pressures of balancing FIFA and sporting commitments can be tough.
“When you break it down you’re playing 15 to 20 hours of FIFA on a weekend alone, and especially for a guy like me who likes to go out and socialise, it’s really difficult to have to commit that time towards FIFA.
“Obviously I’ve got my own goals within FIFA that I want to reach so I keep playing, but it’s pretty tough when you’re playing soccer as well.”
— Adelaide United (@AdelaideUnited) February 1, 2018
That said, the 18-year-old’s FIFA skills caught the eye of UK-based esports organisation FUTWIZ in May last year, where he was signed on as an academy player.
In November 2017 FUTWIZ upgraded O’Doherty’s contract to a professional one after some promising results.
“That was pretty good,” he said in relation to the upgrade.
“Just to start getting paid was great!”
FUTWIZ has helped O’Doherty in a multitude of ways, of which he’s been delighted they’ve been around to help him escalate his game, both on the virtual field and off it.
“My manager Dan, he’s always giving me advice,” he said.
“Not even things to do with FIFA [at times], but just talking about anything in general.
“I didn’t have a really big social media following before I signed with FUTWIZ and they’ve helped me with that all of that, and they’ve been nothing but supportive, so I’m grateful for that.”
With a professional contract from FUTWIZ you’d think O’Doherty would hone in on his FIFA skills, but having been raised in a football-loving family, he’s also pursuing a professional career in the beautiful game itself.
Playing first team football in Adelaide’s second division, the balance has been one that’s kept his life fully revolved around the game, in turn pushing him to defer university for the year in order to focus on both ends of the sport.
“I’m playing at a first team level in the second division over here in Adelaide and I get paid for that as well, so I guess not many other FIFA competitors in the e-League would be doing the same as I am in that respect, I guess!” O’Doherty said.
Much like Sydney FC’s e-League player Mark Brijeski, O’Doherty started his journey in the FIFA competitive scene when FUT Champions was introduced, mainly due to the fact other tournaments online were quite a task to get organised and involved in.
“I used to go online and try to play tournaments and stuff, but they were always in America so there wasn’t really a good connection or anything like that.”
Having played FIFA for the majority of his life, O’Doherty surprised his parents with his placement in the rankings when FUT Champions kicked off, and they’ve been supportive ever since — though still insistent on maintaining a balance with other life commitments.
“Once I told my parents they were a bit surprised at me ranking so highly, and as I was in my final year in school they told me to do my best but not to prioritise it over my schooling.
“They wanted me to make sure I tried to balance it as best I can.
“So I ended up qualifying for a couple of events and I qualified for an event in Canada, finishing fifth out of the 16 Xbox competitors.
“I actually got some prize money for that and had my mum fly over for free as well, so she was pretty chuffed!”
Being a local supporter of Adelaide United and his dad’s hometown club Millwall FC over in England, O’Doherty was excited about the opportunity the e-League presents for FIFA players.
“I think there’s definitely a lot of potential for it to take off, and I think the people at the A-League clubs understand the potential that it has.
“If you look at what happens with Europe and even different esports in general, there’s amazing amounts of money in it and big crowds, so I don’t see why the biggest sport in the world can’t replicate that with FIFA,” he said.
He also believes this is just the beginning for the competitive FIFA scene in Australia, and a really positive step forward.
“We haven’t really had anything like this at all, but I think now that the e-League’s come out, there’ll be a lot more competitive FIFA in Australia which will only benefit all of the players involved.”
With a stacked lineup of quality competitors for the e-League’s first season, O’Doherty feels like the lineup is going to make for an excellent event, too.
“I’m glad that there’s players picked that do have a history of playing at events.
“So for people in the FIFA community they can look at that and go ‘wow, this is going to be good to watch!’
“And even for people who don’t know anything about it… they can keep watching and hopefully when they understand more about the quality of the players that are in the tournament they can strive to get to that level as well.”
With the e-League kicking off this week O’Doherty is extremely keen to get started, though he does have some goals after the competition is over as well.
“I love my football and I love my FIFA at the same time and I’m really passionate about both of them, so whether I’m making content on YouTube or whether I’m still with United and making content… it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to doing,” O’Doherty said.
“I used to have a YouTube channel where I posted my content as well, so I like getting creative with recording and playing FIFA so it’s potentially something I could do again in the future!”
Jamie is set to take on the Central Coast Mariners’ Matthew Camilleri in the first round of the competition, which is kicking off at 8pm AEDT on February 15.