It doesn’t matter who you are, you can always get better at FIFA.
Even the best players in the world, the ones making a living off playing their favourite game as professional esports athletes, are consistently finding ways to improve.
One such player, Ryan ‘Hashtag Ryan’ Pessoa, gave a FIFA 18 workshop at the Red Bull Gaming Sphere in London recently. Fellow pro player Shaun ‘Shellzz’ Springette was there too, so we sat down with both of them to get some private tips.
Ryan ‘Hashtag Ryan’ Pessoa gave a workshop on FIFA 18 at the Red Bull Gaming Sphere
How to defend in FIFA 18
Defending properly is a problem a lot of people have in FIFA. It’s part of the game that EA Sports fiddles with quite a lot, and even the pros have trouble keeping up sometimes.
‘I always struggle with defending,’ said Shellzz. ‘The attack is very similar each year, but defending’s always a tough one. I kept trying different styles, like not touching any players except my back line. Then I tried maybe just using the midfield, you’ve got to find the right balance.’
Hashtag Ryan’s style is very simple: Just hold A.
‘I don’t press B, because they changed it this year,’ he said. ‘When you press B, it’s like a grab, you have to hold B in order to make the tackle, but they do that stupid lunge. I don’t risk it because you can give away penalties because it’s too delayed.
‘When I defend I hold A. Let’s say my opponent’s on the wing and about to come inside, I hold A+LT because it’ll help them shuffle. If they’re good with skills you’re in trouble though. It’s pretty hard to defend this year.’
Shellzz doesn’t wholly agree, but says there are certainly merits to holding A: ‘It’s good in the box because they can’t make any more passes, and it’s kind of good when defending one on one, but not if they start passing.’
One thing they can both agree on is that defending in FIFA is very difficult, particularly in this year’s game.
Fellow professional player Shaun ‘Shellzz’ Springette was also on hand to play people at FIFA
The best formations in FIFA 18
Formations are another area where a lot of the pros have differing opinions. There are lots of different styles of play, and a fair few formations that can fit into it. You just have to find the one for you.
One thing a lot of people don’t realise, is that with custom tactics and instructions, you can change any formation to what you want it to be.
‘I used to use 4-4-1-1 because you have the centre forward who bridges the gap between your striker and midfield,’ said Ryan, who then described what could be done with custom instructions.
‘I could have my wingers on Stay Forward, Get In Behind, and Stay Wide, which then imitates a 4-3-3 (attack). It’s just a bit more defensive when you’re not on the ball.
‘If I want a defensive formation I it’s 4-3-2-1 (wide) or 4-1-4-1 with my striker on Stay Forward, Get In Behind, and everyone else on defensive. It clogs up the midfield and you cover the wings.
‘If you want to keep a lead, it’s always good to have a central defensive midfielder. I prefer two, because when I’m defending I like to control my CDM rather than defenders.’
The only problem is, defensive formations aren’t good for attacking. So you need to have a handful of formations that you’re comfortable with in order to cover all areas of the game.
And there are certain formations which counter others. If your opponent is parking the bus and frustrating you with a 4-3-2-1 (wide), then you can counter it with a 4-3-3 (attack). You can have your attackers stay forward and have your midfielders on Aggressive Interceptions to try and get the ball back quickly. Just be wary of their stamina.
The pros were able to give members of the public tips on how to get better at FIFA 18
FIFA 18 hidden tips and tricks
With FIFA, every game I play I learn something new,’ said Ryan. ‘There’s a lot of things people don’t realise are in the game that aren’t really pointed out to you by FIFA itself. You just have to learn it. A lot of people don’t really know that you can move the goalkeeper.’
Moving the goalkeeper
‘Number one is the goalkeeper shuffle. It’ll save like 50% of driven shots against you. If I see my opponent has got a chance on the edge of the box, just as they’e about to step into it, I’ll hold down the right stick so my goalkeeper shuffles across the face of goal. Save assistance has to be set to semi in order to do this.
‘It’s just built in for players when they’re shooting to shoot across the face of goal as that’s the most effective tactic against people who don’t move their goalkeeper. Against casual players I’ll do that and my goalkeeper will save it.’
There are also sneaky ways of manipulating the AI in order to gain more space when on the attack.
‘Everyone knows about supporting runs,’ said Ryan. ‘LB+A passing, where you trigger runs. But if you hold RB it makes them come close. So if you press LB initially, your player will run and the defender will follow the run. If you press RB quickly, your guy will come towards the ball and the defender is long gone, and you have a lot of room.’
Standing goal kicks
Ryan discovered a new trick in January, when F2Tekkz used it against him to good effect.
‘Every time he had the ball in his keeper’s hands, he’d kick it and was 1 on 1 every single time. I couldn’t understand what was going on. So I watched the game over again and I saw that he would wait on one side of the box, run back to his goal, and then run to the other side, whilst holding RB, and he would just driven kick it straight down the pitch towards the corner flags.
‘Because you’re controlling your defender if you have player switching on air balls, you’re automatically running forward when you’re trying to press the ball. So you run forward, the opponent’s running the other way and it’s a long kick down the field and they’re pretty much one on one. I’ve never seen it before. He scored so many goals through just that, and no one knew how to defend it.’
Now, people have discovered the way to defend against this trick is to control your defender directly and block the run on either side. But it’ll still probably work in most of your games.
‘Crossing is a big one. If I do a normal cross with X, the goalkeeper’s always going to get it. If you hold LB it goes back post and the goalie flaps at it, it doesn’t matter how much power you put on it. Cross assistance has to be on semi.’
These tips may only last a few months, as FIFA 19 could well switch things up in September
Corners, Free Kicks, and Penalties in FIFA 18
‘From corners, if the ball goes out there’s a bit of a cinematic,’ said Ryan. ‘When that’s happening, just wait like a second or two then spam LT, your player will come short, quickly press A to pass to him, do a quick turn and then play it to the person near post who’s running.
‘If you’re not under too much pressure you can take a quick touch and hold L1, and cross to the back post and it’s usually a free header. Usually your CB drifts there. Or you can pass it back to the person who was short for the corner, and cross it the same way.’
As for free kicks, it can be tempting to take the chance and go for the spectacular finish. But Ryan doesn’t take direct shots anymore.
‘I always have a second man and a third runner. I fake shot by holding LT and RB, I’ll fake shot again, then I’ll press A and the player comes short and I take a touch and finesse shot. There’s a barrier when you take free kicks that defenders can’t run past. By the time they get past that I’ve laid it off and I have a second or two to shoot.’
Ryan says he’s not good at penalties, despite winning every shootout he’s ever played at tournaments.
‘I usually just tap shoot. If I’m always aiming left, my player will look left, so your opponent knows where they’re gonna go. So I move the stick left, right, left, right and then decide at the last second.’
Make the most of the tips found in this article while everyone looks ahead to FIFA 19’s release
Of course, I had to try and put my new skills to the test against one of the pros, so I sat down with Ryan for a match. Manchester United vs Manchester United, which Ryan says is the most balanced team in the game.
This time I survived until around the 55th minute at 0-0, and even managed a shot or two on target. However Hashtag Ryan eventually scored a goal, which opened the floodgates for the match to end 3-0.
I’ve still got a lot to learn, although I’m quite sure I’ll never get up to their level.
The texts, information and opinions published in the space are the sole responsibility of the author. Therefore, they do not necessarily correspond to the E-Sports Plus’ point of view.
Os textos, informações e opiniões publicados neste espaço são de total responsabilidade do(a) autor(a). Logo, não correspondem, necessariamente, ao ponto de vista do E-Sports Plus.