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Esports-Age shouldn't decide tournament entry, says 14-year-old FIFA gaming prodigy Vejrgang

REUTERS: Anders Vejrgang is not your average FIFA 21 player, no one is when they have amassed 450 wins without losing a match in its highly popular Weekend League, but what sets him apart is the fact that he is only 14 years old.

While most fans watch their favourite clubs play on weekends, thousands tune in to Vejrgang's Twitch stream to watch him crush his opponents, occasionally humiliating them with difficult tricks that spark a frenzy in the comments section.

The unassuming Danish teenager has over half-a-million followers on the live-streaming platform and his following has continued to grow as he racks up the wins in the Weekend League which pits the best players in the world against each other.

"I started competing in the Weekend League about two-three years ago," he told Reuters. "I have won many local events, beating the top players of my country and online, I won more than 20 tournaments this season alone."

Consistency over the years is no easy task with Electronic Arts (EA) making changes in every annual iteration of the game but Vejrgang, who first started out with FIFA 13, would spend hours everyday perfecting his skills.

"At the beginning of the season I'm investing more time in order to understand and learn the game," he added. "I guess on average I do play about 25 hours per week at that time. Right now, it has reduced to about 15 hours per week.

"People do have a wrong feeling of how much time is needed to become a top player. It's not about the amount of hours you play, it's about how to spend them right."

Any other kid would be grounded if they spent hours on end on their consoles but Vejrgang says his family is supportive and understands he could make a career in gaming.

"They do understand my talent and the potential of esports," he says.

"During the last few months my region has been in a (COVID-19) lockdown. Even now I'm still having online classes, which grants me a lot of flexibility."

His skills earned him a spot in the RBLZ Gaming team, RB Leipzig's esports team, but even though he and his family believe he is old enough to compete professionally, EA thinks otherwise.

"Unfortunately, I haven't been able to compete in major tournaments so far because EA does not allow players aged under 16 to attend their tournaments," Vejrgang said.

EA did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

"I don't see any reason why a digital football simulation should disallow young players to compete in their tournaments," Vejrgang added.

"Even in a game like Fortnite, the youngest players at the World Cup were 13 years old. The skill should be the decisive factor, nothing else."

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Source: Reuters


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