Inside Man City’s esports team with pro FIFA stars Ryan Pessoa and ‘Shellzz’

Manchester City are one of the biggest football clubs in the world, but they're also one of the biggest esports teams in the world too.

City have two dedicated professional FIFA esports players on their books, while the City Football Group having a total of 16 professional FIFA players across clubs like New York City FC, Melbourne City FC and Montevideo City Torque, plus two further esports teams in South Korea and China.

All represent the CFG in major FIFA tournaments.

Ryan Pessoa and Shaun ‘Shellzz’ Springette, two of the very best professional FIFA players, represent Man City in major events around the world, with Pessoa competing on Xbox and Shellzz on PlayStation.

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In addition to their squad of esports athletes, City have entered into a number of major partnerships with some of the biggest esports brands over the last few years.

This week, City's professional FIFA players will be competing in the FA eLions esports event, with the four winners set to represent England in the FIFA eNations Cup later this year, a major FIFA esports event.

The places are set to be decided by a straight knock-out format meaning that any losing player will be automatically eliminated, and the winners will fill the four positions in this year's FA FIFA esports eLions squad.

Ahead of the event, Mirror Football caught up with City's star duo to preview the tournament, talk about the growth of esports, discuss their ambitions to represent England and find out what it's like playing for Manchester City esports.

With people around the world spending more time at home over the last 12 months, the interest in both the gaming industry and competitive esports has growth enormously, and both City esports players agree that the industry will only get bigger.

"I think esports as a whole is getting bigger and bigger," said Shellzz.

"You see, like professional footballers, not even just football, like athletes all around the world streaming nowadays.

"What is it AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – U.S. Representative) in America? She's like yeah a politician, but even she's streaming now.

"Esports as a whole is growing and for FIFA it's just getting bigger and bigger every year.

"Now you see more opportunities for us players to collaborate with, you know, the guys we watch on the pitch all the time. So it's a great, great thing for us."

"It's growing year by year. And every year, there's like a step forward," said Pessoa.

"Of course, it's a bit difficult because there's so much going on in the world right now, with the pandemic and things out of our control, but the opportunity to represent England, it's a great chance."

The upcoming FA eLions esports event represents an opportunity for both players to not only represent City, but also England on the world stage.

The event will feature a straight knockout tournament format, so a single loss would see them knocked out, but both players are confident in their abilities.

"To put on the England shirt and represent them at a tournament, and to even represent a football club, not even a giant like Man City, is like a dream come true honestly," said Shaun ‘Shellzz’ Springette.

"To represent them both and hopefully to win a trophy for both of them, it would be a great honour for me.

"Being able to represent both would be the peak, I'd say of representing anything," said Ryan Pessoa

"To represent Manchester City, the best esports team there is, and England, which is the best esports nation there is as well, being able to represent both would mean you're doing something well and it's definitely the aim.

"The format's ruthless, of course, but all the players here are top players.

"Obviously, I back myself. First game, I have ImpactZ, who's a fantastic player as well, very skilful.

"But regardless of who I play, it doesn't make a difference. Like it's going to be tough. Everyone here is here on merit, they've done well to reach the stage. And yeah, I back myself, but it will be tough.

"You don't have any second chance, but we've all been in a situation where we can't lose and stuff like that," said Shellzz

"So I mean, there's not too much of a problem.

"Of course, you know, you know how big the opportunity is to play for England, just got get the job done on the day."

The duo also talked about what it's like to represent Manchester City at major FIFA esports events around the world, praising the club for their support, with City providing both players with a mental coach, and also touched on the club's long-term esports vision.

On that, Shellzz said: "When I was a free agent, when I had the idea of football clubs, with signing players and stuff, I didn't really see their kind of idea, that project and just how seriously they take it.

"Since I joined City, they've done more than I ever could ask for and things I didn't even think were possible.

"We've got a mental coach, Edgar, who helps us with the mental side of the game, which is an important aspect for everyone because we deal with pressure, because we all want to win and do well when we're going to represent the club.

"He helps us with that and he helps us with the in-game focus as well, it's helped me massively like even now when I pay the qualifiers, I'm a lot more calm.

"Even when I lose, I can take a lot more and I can deal with the stress and stuff like that.

"Even with like the ePremier League and how it's streamed and stuff, they get a serious broadcast team, they want to show off their esports side and they want to show that they care about FIFA and esports in general.

"They're taking it really seriously, they show their interest and they show their interest to us, they (City) care about us and they want us to do well.

"They (City) support us really well, I know they want the best for us we've tried to give that back to them."

"I'd say we have the best structure in my opinion across FIFA esports, no doubt, in my opinion, anyway," said Pessoa.

"The support they've offered, everything from the facilities that we're able to play in when we have qualifiers.

"I love representing City and being affiliated with the club."

FIFA 21 Latest News

Pessoa and Shellzz will both be featuring in the FA’s FIFA esports eLions event ‘ELIONS: THE ELIMINATOR’ event, that will be taking place between February 11 and February 12

The event will be live streamed on England’s official Twitch channel from 3.45pm across both days. There will be giveaways during the broadcast, including a ‘Secret Lab’ England branded gaming chair, signed England merchandise and EA SPORTS FIFA 21 in game icons, including 1966 World Cup wining captain Bobby Moore, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen.

* FIFA 21 is out now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. The next generation version of FIFA 21 is also available now on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PlayStation 5.

Fans who jump into FIFA 21 can also benefit from Dual Entitlement, enabling them to upgrade their copy of the game from PlayStation 4 to PlayStation 5, or Xbox One to Xbox Series X/S at no extra cost.

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