- Colombia's 'Janoz' is a veteran on the competitive FIFA scene
- Reached the Final Showdown back in 2011, still playing at the global finals
- The South American looks back at his journey
When ‘MoAuba’ and ‘MsDossary’ went head to head for global glory in the FIFA eWorld Cup™ 2019 Final Showdown, Javier ‘Janoz’ Munoz was aware of the pressures involved in contesting the biggest game in competitive FIFA.
The Colombian, watching on at The O2 in London, had himself been in that same position after all.
‘Janoz’ reached the showpiece decider back in 2011 in Los Angeles, finishing runner-up to eventual winner Francisco Cruz. The 27-year-old is still going strong and was the only veteran from that edition to reach this year’s Grand Final.
“That loss, and that game, was very important for me – maybe the most important in my career,” said 'Janoz'. “It allowed me to keep trying and maybe if I’d won that game, I wouldn’t be here.
“I feel proud of my journey. I think I’m still the only one playing at these big tournaments from that time to now.”
Though 'Janoz' remains, much has changed on the competitive FIFA scene since 2011. The professionalisation of the sport now sees players represent clubs and Member Associations in an official capacity, while prize money has also dramatically increased.
‘MoAuba’ bagged USD 250,000 and ‘MsDossary’ USD 100,000 for their finishes at this year’s Grand Final. In 2011, the winner and runner-up took home USD 20,000 and USD 5,000 respectively.
“Eight years ago, it was like a hobby for all of us. It’s now a lot more professional. Everyone plays a lot more and they prepare with a team behind them. The number of competitors right now is huge and the prizes have grown a lot.”
Munoz’s love of EA SPORTS FIFA began back in Bogota at just six years old, the beginning of a journey which would eventually take him around the world as a competitive FIFA player.
“Growing up playing real football was very important to me,” he said. “I moved to video games because I found I was good at playing them. All the time when I was a kid I was thinking about football.
“The first edition of FIFA I played was FIFA World Cup 1998. I remember playing the demo for the first time and there were just two teams: Brazil and England. I played that game a thousand times, I was very happy playing it as a kid.”
That childhood pastime soon manifested itself into a career. “I never thought competitive FIFA was going to be a thing. I just played because it was a hobby, and over time I started playing at tournaments. It went slowly from a hobby to a job.”
'Janoz' was one of seven South American players at the 2019 Grand Final. With Brazil the second most-represented nation at the tournament with five players and PlayStation No1 ‘Nicolas99fc’ of Argentina reaching the console final, it is evident that South America packs a punch on the scene.
Players from the continent, however, still face challenges and obstacles.
“It’s very hard to be an eSports player in Colombia because we don’t have the same structure and support that there is in Europe, for example,” revealed ‘Janoz’. “The internet connection there is a big deal. We’re at a bit of a disadvantage compared to other countries.
“With people like me qualifying for events, it inspires a lot of people from Colombia and South America. They’re starting in video games and eSports. I feel very proud about that, which is why I fight hard to show that our region is important and that we can be the best.”
A South American player has not tasted global glory since the eWorld Cup’s inaugural edition in 2004 when Thiago Carrico de Azevedo took the title back to Brazil. Will 2020 see a South American take the title once again?