Odisha FC player Sarvagya Rawat

Gameweek 7 of the eISL, India’s premier FIFA tournament, concluded yesterday. With two of the six playoff spots still up for grabs, the qualification scenario is quite exciting. All teams will feature in the final gameweek of the eISL, apart from Odisha FC, who have completed their 10 matches.

Sarvagya Rawat made his eISL debut with Odisha FC this season. Sarvagya, or simply Vagya, was paired up with Nathan Fernandes for the ongoing season. Despite being relatively inexperienced in the pro scene, the pair have done quite well, causing some upsets along the way.

In conversation with Sportskeeda Esports’ Yasho Amonkar, Sarvagya reveals how a childhood friend helped him on his journey to the eISL, details his experiences of the season, and gets candid about where he thinks he needs to improve.

“FIFA was always a game Emaad and I shared, and seeing him qualify for Season 1 of the eISL made me want to participate too”: Sarvagya

Q) Which was the first edition of FIFA that you played? When did you start feeling that you were good enough to compete at the highest level?

Sarvagya: The first edition of this game I ever played was FIFA 13 on the PSP. My older brother, Suryansh, introduced me to the game, and that is how my journey started. I only played offline or with my brother until FIFA 20.

FIFA 20 was when I learned about FIFA Ultimate Team. It was during the COVID pandemic, when I had a lot of time to play and get better, that I realized that I could start competing and make a career out of FIFA esports.

Q) The ongoing eISL season is your debut in the FIFA esports scene. How has the overall experience of the tournament been so far?

Sarvagya: The experience and the opportunity that has been provided to me has been surreal. Through eISL, I got the chance to compete with the best pros in the FIFA esports scene.

This has not only led me to understand the scene better but has also helped me grow immensely as a player for seasons to come. It’s an opportunity only provided to a few, and I am lucky and privileged enough to be a part of this elite tournament.

Q) NorthEast United FC’s Emaad Jameel was seen coaching you during the eISL qualifiers, which was a beautiful sight in itself. Can you tell me more about your relationship with Emaad and how it all panned out during the qualifiers?

Sarvagya: Emaad and I have been friends since our school days. He is a year older than me, and we met in school through FIFA. There was a tournament held in school, and we faced off there and got acquainted with each other. Since then, we have been gaming together.

FIFA was always a game Emaad and I shared, and seeing him qualify for Season 1 of the eISL made me want to participate too. He agreed to help me out and coach me through the qualifiers. I played the qualifiers at his house, as we live very close to each other.

Q) Odisha FC were seen as the underdogs even before a ball was kicked. Considering both you and Nathan Fernandes are not as well-versed with the pro FIFA scene as some others in the tournament, how did both of you react to it?

Sarvagya: The eISL season two is the first major pro tournament for both Nathan and me. We knew that although we had the skill, we lacked the composure and experience of some of the other players in the tournament.

But we knew that it wasn’t a good enough excuse to hold us back. We both knew that we just had to play our game, not overthink, just enjoy this opportunity, and have a good time!

Q) The Juggernauts ended their league stage on six points. What do you reckon were your main weaknesses that you wish to work on in the future?

Sarvagya: Nathan and I had a slow start to the eISL season. As it was our first tournament, we did not know what to expect. But as the season progressed, we made immense improvements to our game. We went from losing the first five games to avoiding defeat in the next four.

I feel our main weakness was our defense. We had a lot to work on and improve on in that aspect. But over the course of the tournament, we learned from our previous games and understood where we had gone wrong and what was required of us.

Q) You also delved into content creation and streaming along with competing in the eISL this season. Is streaming something you would like to do on a full-time basis in the future?

Sarvagya: ZenoVagyaYT was the channel I started after I realized that esports could be a potential career for me. I started it with the objective of helping other esports players grow in the game of FIFA.

There are a lot of small details and tricks known by pros that are not widely known by the average player. These are the differences between going pro and being an amateur player. In a sense, I wanted to be the Emaad to them, as Emaad was to me in my journey of becoming a pro.

Streaming full-time for any gamer is always the end goal. Being able to play video games, help other gamers out, and do it full-time will be a dream come true.

Q) There are a lot of young FIFA players in India who are not aware of how to take gaming to the next level and become a professional esports player. Is there something from your journey that you would like to share with them?

Sarvagya: What I have learned from my journey so far, and with all the exposure I have gained playing alongside the best in India, is to watch other pro players and see what they are doing. Also, find out why they are doing that. Be curious about everything they do.

Why did they perform that skill move in that situation? Why did they press that button at that time? Why did they make that decision and not another? In the end, this is a game about precise and quick decision-making. So understanding what decision is best in what situation is the greatest skill any FIFA player can have.

Asking 100 questions to get a better understanding of the game is, in my opinion, the edge that can turn an average player into a pro player.

During practice for the eISL qualifiers, I asked 100 questions to a bunch of pro players, and that made my understanding of the game much greater, which in turn developed into skills in the game.

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