Robert “Ufenok77” Fakhretdinov put together a team for the Phygital Games

The Russian esportsman Robert ‘Ufenok77’ Fakhretdinov put together a team in phygital football who will participate in the first Phygital Games to be held in Kazan on September 21-23. The lineup of Lokomotiv includes popular players of the media league and FIFA players: Anton KLENOFF Klenov, Alexandr STIL Stepanov, Vladislav SLON Oslonovsky, Daniil ABELDOS Abeldiaev, Vladislav Gavi Gavilovsky, Artem KHAL Khalilov and Vadim Tsay.

— Robert, what do you think about the phygital format (physical+digital) and the sheer fact that this format made its appearance in sport?

— I haven’t tried it yet myself, but it is very interesting, so I am looking forward to the first tournaments. What will it look like? Who is going to participate? Will the right balance be found between a real sport game and a game played on PlayStation or a computer? Because I realize that with the FIFA game it is all more or less clear and I’ll be doing OK, plus I know the guys from my team, so we’ll be just fine. I wonder who the opponents are, how strong they are and whether they can fire riposte.
We will see how the other disciplines are faring. Because if you take the FIFA+futsal phygital discipline, then we’ll see that the guys who play on a sport simulator are more physically fit. It’s no offense to the other players. And it will be really interesting to see what the players from Dota2 and Counter-Strike can show on a real pitch, because these guys look more like intellectuals with an IT-type of physique, let’s put it this way.

— The guys from the team got interested in such format?

— Yeah, because they are excited about it. Though they are a bit self-assured. That’s their way of thinking – “we’ll score many goals in the FIFA game and then we’ll step out on a real pitch and we’ll give it our all for 20 minutes whatever it takes”.

— You said that there are quite a few guys who also play traditional football among those who play the FIFA game, right? So, they play both games – the virtual and the real one – pretty much on the same level?

— Sure, it’s true. Because those who take up the FIFA game come from traditional football. This is how it was in the past. Even on the level of competitions, at the international tournaments I’ve been to. Let’s take, for instance, the guys I know: some of them were professional footballers till age 18-19, some of them played in junior national teams of their respective countries. For example, it’s true of Denmark. A good friend of mine is a Romanian from the FIFA milieu, he even played one match in the Champions League. So, yes, at first, they play real football in courtyards, then they get a game console at home and they begin playing the FIFA game. Therefore, I believe the guys from FIFA find it easier (to play real football). Anyway, it is just easier with football, because let’s face it – who on earth didn’t play football in one’s childhood in the courtyard? And the other disciplines are, well, so-so, but it will be interesting to see.

— Do you follow the other disciplines in E-Sports?

— I used to keep an eye on Counter-Strike, because I was playing it occasionally myself, I was also following our teams from the CIS, and I was rooting for them. I communicate with some players. For example, with Flamie who was playing for NAVI for a long time. I used to follow Dota2 in the past as well as the 1st, the 2nd and the 3rd International when they existed. (What years are we talking about? The years 2012, 2013 and 2014 with the old legendary lineups)

— New tournaments are coming…

— Yes, new tournaments, and then there is “phygital” which will give a new impetus albeit without the participation of international teams on the initial stages. As I understand, the latter teams will join in the main tournament in 2024. Let’s see how our teams are faring. Sport is sport, as a matter of fact, sport at the highest possible level even if it’s a Russian national championship, it is still interesting to compete there. But then, of course, when it’s an international tournament, you feel the drive, the impulse… But, well, for now there is nothing you can do about it. All is left for us to do is stew in our own juices and hope that things will be slowly improving.

— Speaking of new impetus, it turns out you switched to esports after you got injured?

— Well, not quite so, but let’s say that my injury was a factor. I moved to esports because I broke my leg, so I was staying at home and began studying actively esports to find out that there are world championships in esports, that players travel the world, so I got interested in esports and began playing. While I was lying on my back with my broken leg, I began winning, so I got hooked on. And when I recovered after the injury, I opted for FIFA. Don’t know if I made the right choice. Nevertheless, that was the choice I made back then. Maybe because I felt really lazy to train twice a day whereas in fact you can just stay at home, drink Coke, win championships and on top of that get your quotas for international and European events. After all, in that (football) academy where I was playing, we didn’t travel to international tournaments, while here you see that you can represent not just one republic but the whole country. Since I managed to become all at once the best in Russia back in the day and began travelling to international tournaments already as a member of the Russian national team, I made a choice in favor of FIFA. Had I not made such an impressive breakthrough in my own eyes and in the eyes of our FIFA community, then, of course, I would have stayed in football. But then in general I recommend to go in for sports. It’s never too late to switch to esports.

— You mentioned skepticism, that was a was a huge problem, though now esports is developing so rapidly that the attitude of people somehow has changed, but still we hope that the tournament Games of Future will become a link between the virtual and real worlds.

— If esports were like that from the outset, with this phygital-digital stuff, then it seems to me there would be no skepticism at all. I mean, people would see that after virtual FIFA matches the guys go and play real football right away, so they will give them kudos – like, “Way to go guys!”. It means they can do more than just sit and play a game console. It means they don’t forget football – then there would be no skepticism. But again, everything in its own time. And now “Games of Future” fit perfectly well into esports, because, again, we are suspended, so playing just traditional tournaments here probably wouldn’t be so fun. Here we are talking about phygital. And it is not clear what teams will participate, how it is all going to look. So, I am really looking forward to the very first tournament, because we can try indeed to score like 6-10 goals in the FIFA game, but then there is no way one can score equalizers and bounce back in real football. With the team I’ll have after conceding these goals (in FIFA game) you ain’t gonna rebound in real football. Because, like I said, my guys can play well not only the FIFA game, many of them were professional footballers. I just don’t even know whether some other teams will have players who can do well both in virtual and real football. There are very few people like that amongst those I know. And I recruited them all in my team.

— And now a blitz-interview, you gotta respond quickly. Ready?

— O’kay.

— Your favorite player?

— Cristiano Ronaldo.

— The best commentator/streamer?

— Let’s say, Roman Naguchev. But in general, it’s Vasiliy Utkin.

— The three essential qualities for a good esportsman?

— Intellect, physical activity, speed.

— Finish this sentence: “Next season I….”

— … will win in phygital. But it’s gonna happen already during this season (laughter).

— So, see you at the tournament in the format Games of Future?

— Sure. And Loko will be the champion.