Last year, James ‘Cripsy’ Williams took a huge leap of faith. Encouraged by others, he began streaming and sunk his time into really giving Twitch a good go.
Eight months later, and that risk looks to have paid off: with over 10,000 followers on Twitch, a healthy gathering on his social media accounts, as well as signing on with Tainted Minds as a content creator, Williams’ spirited and energetic character has made him one of the FIFA community’s favourite personalities. As such, it’s all become a huge part of his life, as have his viewers and fans.
“It’s fun, it’s different, I have such a nice community built around me now,” Williams said.
“We’ve worked really hard as a team — I don’t feel like it’s all been one person, I feel like we all do our bit.
“I do my best every week to do the best I can on stream, as well as bringing content off stream, [and] keeping it fresh and exciting.”
The 25-year-old took another big step forward in his online career with the recent announcement that the Melbournian had signed on with Brisbane Roar as their e-League Xbox One player, and he’s understandably excited.
“As some people know out there, I’m not the most athletic and I never really had a huge interest in playing sports,” he said.
“But boy do I love sport in general.
“For me on a personal level, it’s been eight or nine years since I started playing [FIFA] competitively and now I’m playing in arguably one of the biggest competitions in the country, and I’m representing a triple-premiership winning team — I’m so happy.”
With his first experience of FIFA occurring in the late 90s, Williams has been a long-time fan of the series ever since, sharing a particularly entertaining story of his first experience with the game.
“It was in FIFA 98 on the PC,” he said.
“My dad bought it and he asked me one day to play… I was six at the time and he found a glitch where you could essentially put a player right in front of the line of where a goal kick would be taken.
“And the ball would always hit that player!
“You could score from that and whatnot, so my dad basically crushed me every time we played.
“I was too young to really understand how it worked, and from that point onwards I’ve played FIFA 2002 on the PlayStation 2, and then [from] 2004 onwards I’ve pretty much played every year.”
The Chelsea and Barcelona fan started his competitive adventure back in 2009, helping set up events along the east coast of Australia as well as participating in online tournaments.
“I think I turned more competitive, as well as beginning to care for the [competitive] scene, in 2009.
“I’ve competed and organised events all along the east coast of Australia, so it’s been pretty impressive for myself when looking at the change in being a young kid to someone that’s really started taking it a bit more seriously… and now look where we are!
FIFA’s newest competitive mode, FUT Champions, which compelled other professional FIFA players like Sydney FC’s Mark Brijeski and Adelaide United’s Jamie O’Doherty to really have a crack at the competitive FIFA scene, has been a huge change for the series. And Williams believes it’s been a solid inclusion, constantly changing to keep players on their game.
“FUT Champions is such a different beast every weekend,” he said.
“I think a lot of players would agree that the game actually just changes day-to-day, let alone in the most competitive high-end of games.”
Because of this Williams believes friendly matches, which aren’t ranked, are favoured by pros in order to get a grip of new patches and gameplay tweaks, which happens fairly regularly.
Reflecting on the last few entries in the series, Williams also thinks that EA are starting to nail the simulation of the game, though there are still issues to be sorted to fully iron out the kinks in the latest entry.
“It’s been a unique ride, but I genuinely think we’re beginning to get a more simulated game as opposed to an arcade game — I do think we’re getting closer,” Williams said.
“We’re still getting no loss glitches and stuff like that, though, and in the most competitive month of the year… it’s just not good.
No loss glitches are commonly associated with a player, who is usually losing, to do some sort of combination of button presses (usually backing out to the console’s home menu a handful of times in a row), which in turn bugs out FIFA 18 and disconnects the other player. This, in turn, gives the player who did the glitch a win, whereas the other player — who was winning at the time in-game (usually) — is awarded a DNF (did not finish) result, which slaps them with a loss.
Williams thinks this is a deep issue embedded within FIFA 18 itself, too, and that there’s probably not much that can be done to alter the issues until FIFA 19 comes along this September.
“I don’t think they can actually change it at this point,” he said.
“Next year I hope we’ll see some changes.”
Well regarded as one usually ‘in the know’ by his community, Williams was one of the first people to talk about the original copy of the e-League’s 50-player draft list, which, according to him, shocked both himself and the wider FIFA community.
“We didn’t think it was the right representation of the best players in the country.
“And the thing about that list as well was that they had players who were already signed to contracts on the list to go into the draft — that’s why when it came out I didn’t believe it, because the list was missing so many people.
“On that stream there were around 100 people watching, firing shots left, right, and centre! It was impressive, and it was actually really interesting to see how many people were really interested with what was going on and it’s become more of a talking point now on [my] stream in general.
“I contacted the FFA on behalf of myself and contacted a few community members enquiring about what was going on,” he continued.
“Very quickly they actually tweeted back saying that the list was wrong… unfortunately it took them about five days to take down the list, and that was after a phone call I had with the guy that was planning it.
“On a personal level, I think it’s all come up very quickly, and they’re just trying to manage it all.
“There were some real concerns there, but to the FFA and the A-League’s credit they came out quickly and said it wasn’t correct and I’ve had direct phone calls with them in terms of various questions and issues that have needed to be answered.
“That all said, it’s the first year,” he said.
“You’re expecting issues and teething problems and I think they’re doing the best they can to respond to those.”
In the end, everything was sorted and Williams believes the calibre of players in the inaugural e-League season is going to lead to some fantastic matches.
“You’ve got FUTWIZ Jamie, who competed in regionals last year like Dino, you’ve got Marcus Gomes who competed in regionals and in Barcelona at the beginning of this year… We’re basically rolling out names that have competed at the highest level, whether it was regional or international,” Williams said.
“There’ll definitely be no pushovers, there’s a real high-end player selection in the majority of cases.
“I have games against these guys regularly in the Weekend League [in FUT Champions], and they’re all in that echelon of really talented FIFA players that we have in our region.
Williams thinks that, even though he’s beaten some of the players included in the competition quite a bit, anyone can win on their day
“There are players on that list that I’ve beaten fairly regularly, but when I’m going to play them at this event, I’m taking that game as seriously as any other game.
“They are there because they’re consistent, and they’re very good at the game.
“Overall, that list [of players] is pretty impressive.”
He also believes this could be a huge step forward for the competitive FIFA scene in Australia and the players competing, though it must continue on past season one and players must get behind their clubs in order for it to be a huge success.
“We need players representing their teams as best they can so the teams don’t feel like they’re just there for namesake purposes, and that’s why on a personal level I want to do the best I can to represent the Roar, and I hope that other players are going to do the same.
“The other thing is probably just consistency,” Williams said.
“You want to see consistency in the picking of the players, you want to see stories, you want to see familiar faces — this is how you build storylines and chemistry on air.
“Consistency is the key to building a fanbase… and so whatever happens in this first season, there needs to be a second season.
“I believe we will see one, but there needs to be one and there could be changes but we also need to at least see some familiar faces carried over, too.”
As well as having players back the teams they’ve been drafted into, Williams is keen to see the sponsoring work being done behind the scenes in order to make the e-League a success, something that’s already starting to kick off on the various e-League and A-League social media pages this week.
He hopes this should raise awareness for the competitive scene in positive ways.
“I think once you see a really large, positive marketing campaign — and we’re going to see one — in terms of the competition being on Twitch, on Foxtel, you know, there’s going to be sponsors I have no doubt.
“Once companies see it can be a success and broadcasted, I think there’s going to be businesses and partners who are going to try and dip their toes in the competitive field.
“There is interest, even from the normal media already,” Williams continued.
“The fact that people are even talking about the e-League – even if it’s negative – shows to me that the marketing is working.
“I do believe that the way the FFA and the A-League roll this out could be some pretty impressive stuff and I think the mainstream media might really tune in.”
Williams has really been at the forefront of promoting the e-League and the Roar, and that’s been a plan of his for quite some time — he wants to make the most of the opportunity he’s been given.
“We [the Roar and I] are really trying to be ahead of the game in terms of content and marketing.”
Similarly, he’s especially excited about the possibilities of content and promotion for the first round of the e-League.
“I feel as though we’re really pushing the boundaries here as best we can, so I think we have a unique advantage here where not only do we have someone, my teammate Dino, in Brisbane being able to be at the [Roar] home games, but I’m also able to be at the away games here in Melbourne.
“I think that’s such a great, unique opportunity for us.
“We’re really trying to push the competition, as well as the fact that… there’s going to be some competition — there’s going to be some rivalry!
“This is not your Sunday League stuff, this is really the top of the line here in Australia for competition… you’re going to see tension, you’re going to see some raw emotion… and I think it’s likely we’re going to see some big defeats too, in terms of the seriousness of the competition.
“it’s going to be a rollercoaster ten weeks!”
With a strong level of LAN experience, Williams is confident that he may have an edge over some of the other competitors he’ll be taking on, too.
“I think a high level of LAN experience is key for these kinds of events,” he said.
“I think competing in a LAN event, wherever it was, is good for your experience — you gain a feeling for it, and you look to draw on that [experience].”
He’s also confident in his ability to really push players during the competition, and, like all the other competitors, wants to lift the trophy at the end of proceedings.
“I never give up, and I genuinely believe that I can push anyone for 90 minutes, no matter their quality or mine.
“I want to be positive, I think the community behind me is really positive, and I genuinely believe that I can beat a lot of these guys and I guess the thing is that we’re not going to know until we start!
“I don’t want to be one of those people that has others think that I’ve been picked because of my social media or my Twitch views or anything like that, I’m there to take it seriously just like everyone else.
“That said, at the end of the day I want to have fun, and I think I will! I want people to see that just because it’s a competitive game and sometimes things don’t go your way, you can still have fun and have a great time.”
James ‘Cripsy’ Williams will be looking to start well against Melbourne Victory’s Mitch Austin in the Xbox bracket of the e-League, which is set to commence on February 15 at 8pm AEDT.