Playing FIFA for a living may sound like the easiest job in the world but that couldn’t be less accurate.
Just like other professional sportspeople, it requires hours of graft, unflinching determination and sacrifice – navigating a rocky road where the difference between winning or losing comes down to a matter of milliseconds.
Chris – TheeBullock’ – Bullock knows this all too well – having bagged a spot in the FIFA Interactive World Cup Finals in FIFA 17 by a golden goal.
“I was playing at FIWC in Munich against a French player,” said the 23-year-old from Burnley.
“We were pretty even so it went to golden goal – whoever scored would go to the Grand Final in London.
“The ball was going back and forth between Luis Suarez and prime Fernando Torres. A bit of space then opened up and I just manage to fire off a finesse shot with Suarez.”
It soared into the top right and the game was won.
“I remember it so clearly now. I had 30 pro players shouting my name behind me, my coach was up on his feet clapping – it was literally an insane moment,” he added.
Bullock went on to become the Xbox regional champion.
Not that this was any surprise.
Bullock’s love affair with FIFA started back in FIFA 14 – in the day where esports was still in its infancy.
Gamers would compete via a website called Gfinity – which has since evolved to become one of the largest esports organisations in the world.
The Gfinity Elite Series Delivered by Dominos is now arguably one of the most prestigious events in any pro FIFA players’ calendar.
It sees 10 of the best teams in Europe battle it out on 2v2 co-op FIFA for a £20,000 top prize.
“I played on a website called Gfinity and was winning the tournaments left, right and centre,” said Bullock, who’s currently starring for Dream Team Gaming in the Elite Series.
“In FIFA 14, I had the second-most wins on the website and it’s just gone from there. I’ve gone from making money from different website to making £50 in tiny tournaments to 1000s of pounds.”
Whilst many millennials grew up wanting to be professional sportspeople, for the newer generation pro gaming holds just as much appeal.
“I’ve always had plans to go into it – I’ve always been good at FIFA and I’ve always watched a lot of esports.
“I haven’t gone down the traditional route of a gamer – I also have a job – I’m a brick layer by trade and a pro gamer on the side.
“It’s one of those things which means the best of both worlds because I get to work outside on the construction site 8-4 then come home and play FIFA for a few hours afterwards.”
Having a work-life balance when juggling two careers can prove difficult – but for Bullock, the positives outweigh the negatives.
“On one hand I’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices. I’ve had relationships where I’ve had to end them because I’ve had to focus on gaming.
“Especially with FIFA, you have to make a lot of sacrifices, as you have to play a lot of games over the weekend, which means you don’t have much of a social life.
“But the positives outweigh the negatives – I’ve met a loads of people.
“Huge Gorilla (another esports star) I’ve known since 2014 – and a lot of people I speak to are from the FIFA and Call of Duty scene.
“It’s skyrocketed from there, getting to know more and more people.”
Although Bullock continues to work as a bricklayer for the time being, he sees his future very much in the esports scene.
“In 10 years time I still want to be in esports,” he said. “I’ve got a foothold in it – I think I’ve got the knowledge to become a caster or analyst, especially in FIFA.”
Watch the Elite Series live or online. Get your FREE tickets to come and watch all of the FIFA 19 action in the Gfinity Arena here on Eventbrite.
You’ll also be able to watch live exclusively on Facebook every single week.