Western Sydney Wanderers’ Joseph “OhNoAGoat” Nassar has had a cracking nine weeks in the FIFA 18 E-League. With his team finishing in fourth spot — winning six games and losing three on aggregate — he’s been impressed with how everything’s come along. Similarly, playing for the team he supports is something he’s really proud of.

“I’ve been in Western Sydney all my life, and so it’s crazy to represent my local team,” he said.

Unlike a handful of other players in the competition, Nassar was left waiting until the day of the player draft to find out whether or not he’d made the cut.

“Some people got told they were going to get picked, though I wasn’t,” Nassar explained. “So I was waiting for that final live draft and when I saw my name pop up I was screaming! I called my mates, and I was going wild when I saw my name.”

Nassar, who’s been playing FIFA casually since FIFA 12 before getting into the competitive scene in 2017, says that going and competing in the E-League for the past nine weeks has been an exciting experience.

“For me, everyday I can’t wait to go and play. To see everyone there and talk to the boys, it’s such a good time,” he said. “I always look forward to it, going every Thursday night and playing, [as well as] seeing the boys is so much fun.”

Most of the E-League’s competitors are friends of Nassars, too, after he met most of them last year at another competitive FIFA event. He believes this friendship and bond between the group has created a better atmosphere for the E-League, and adds to his excitement in catching up with them every Thursday.

His final match in the league stage, which was against Adelaide United’s FUTWIZ Jamie last week, was one he was looking forward to in particular.

“We have a big rivalry,” he said, in regards to playing against Jamie in the final round of the competition. “Last year in Canada he was in my group and I was a part of FUTWIZ back then. He’s now a part of FUTWIZ, which is weird seeing that now!”, he said. “He beat me 1-0 with an insane header out of nowhere when I dominated him the whole game, and since then he keeps bragging about it to me all day.”

Unfortunately for the Goat, he ended up going down 2-3 to Jamie last week, though his side finished higher on the table than Adelaide — something he’d no doubt be happy with.

Members of the Western Sydney Wanderers, Nassar says, keep in regular contact with both him and PlayStation 4 teammate Rick Tran too, which he believes has been important for both competitors throughout the competition.

“They’ve been pretty great — they’ve been giving us free clothes, sponsored jerseys… it’s all very neat! Every Thursday we’ve been getting messages of support, and just having that backing really helps us a lot — it’s always good to have someone behind you, and I love that.”

As for the E-League itself, Nassar was all praise for what has been an extremely successful competition. He believes the interest generated from the E-League has been massive, and can only grow in the years to come.

“After last year [with the introduction of FUT Champions and regional competitions in Australia] a lot of players came and after the E-League more and more players are going to be getting involved. I know a few people who missed out, as they forgot about the E-League submissions and they told me ‘ugh I should have signed up!’ — it’s going to be so hard to pick who’ll be playing next season!”

The Western Sydney man also believes generating more interest in the FIFA scene can be only a good thing for the community in general, as not enough people play FIFA in the country. Leagues like the E-League can only help to generate and bring interest to the game, in turn helping the competitive scene become better and more competitive on the international stage.

Western Sydney Wanderers’ Rick “RDOUBLETTT” Tran (L) and Joseph “OhNoAGoat” Nassar (R)

Nassar had a few interesting ideas for how he’d like to see the E-League expand for next season, too.

“I think having more rounds would make it more interesting, as well as having it run throughout a whole season of the A-League would make it really, really interesting,” he said. “To go through every game, no matter how long it takes, I think it’d be super interesting to see what happened in the end!”

“I think nine rounds is a pretty short season right now, and I think the format as well could be changed. Having two players on PS4, two on Xbox, that’d be pretty cool — having proper teams. New ideas [for next season] would definitely be nice.”

I also posed the question to Nassar about what he’d change in the league if he had a choice, with his answer focusing around getting the league out to more eyes.

“It’s been pretty good lately — 4,000 views every Thursday [on Twitch] has been excellent, but I’d probably say broadcasting it on TV. I don’t think it’s been broadcasted on TV yet, and I know the finals will be, but I think if all the rounds were on TV it’d be much bigger.”

“I would like to come back, as it’d be a dream to represent the side again.” – Western Sydney Wanderers’ Joseph “OhNoAGoat” Nassar

With the E-League Grand Finals set to kick off on April 26, Nassar hopes that after the final whistle is blown teams will still keep their a hold of their respective players — at least until the beginning of the next E-League season — and support them on their competitive endeavours. This is already happening at a local level with Melbourne City’s Marcus Gomes, who signed for the club in 2017 — well before the E-League was even announced.

“It’d be awesome if, until next season, we could be signed full-time or something (with no pay, whatever works), and for [the club] to just keep supporting us in tournaments and comps. There’s always going to be opportunities for us to play FIFA overseas — you never know what’s going to happen. Just to have [the club] behind you as well, will really help.”

Of course, there’s also the possibility that clubs will choose to keep players on for season two of the E-League, and Nassar expressed his interest in remaining at the Wanderers if that opportunity did arise.

“Maybe Rick & I’s form wasn’t so good for the first couple of weeks [of the competition], but we’ll see what happens — maybe in the finals we’ll do well! I would like to come back, as it’d be a dream to represent the side again.”

With the finals looming, I also asked Nassar who he expects to come out on top after the final ball is kicked. Unlike in the season rounds of the E-League, players now don’t have to have any A-League players in their team, meaning any combination of FIFA Ultimate Team player cards can be used in the finals.

“If not me, then I’d probably pick Marcus,” he said. “I think he deserves it a lot, at least for Xbox he deserves it. He’s been the best and most consistent player, not just in the E-League but in FIFA in general — I feel like he’d be the best choice for me.”

With all of the players set to have a couple of weeks off before the E-League Grand Final, the Goat will have some time to prepare himself for what promises to be a cracking finals series. There’s so much on the line — including a spot at the FIFA eWorld Cup Qualifier Playoffs — that every player will go in with the aim of winning the competition.

That said, with a fourth-placed finish, alongside a slew of excellent results against high profile opponents in the regular league stages, Joseph “OhNoAGoat” Nassar will certainly fancy his chances.