Donovan "F2Tekkz" Hunt is the hottest Fifa professional gamer, winning two of four major tournaments in the 2018-19 season and picking up US$100,000 (S$135,700), but it is easy to forget that he is still just 17 years old.
He is young even by e-sports standards, but not by much because a premium is placed on reflexes and reaction time. Players tend to peak at an even earlier age - from their late teens to early 20s - than their peers in physical sports.
Hunt found himself needing to make new friends and adjust to newfound fame in the football simulation gaming circuit after moving away from his south-west England home a year ago to attend college.
"I've lived in Devon my whole life so I didn't really have any friends when I got to Wolverhampton for college," said the Liverpool fan.
He said that when he won his first Fifa tournament in January last year, he started to get a lot of friends and fans. "It was quite crazy. I got very busy with a lot of things and my performance kind of dropped off. But yeah, I think if I went back to Devon now, everybody would know me," he said.
He is among 64 top Fifa players who will be showcasing their skills in Singapore at the US$100,000 PGL Fifa Ultimate Team Champions Cup from today at Zepp@BigBox in Jurong East. Admission is free to the event jointly presented by PGL and eGG Network. It is the fifth of six top-tier tournaments in the Fifa 19 Global Series, which builds up to the 2019 Fifa eWorld Cup in July.
The field is separated into two categories, Xbox One and Playstation 4. The winners from each category will meet in the two-legged grand final on Sunday, with one game played on each console. The champion earns US$50,000.
Hunt (4,220 points) holds a 2,000-point lead over his nearest challenger, eWorld Cup champion Mosaad "msdossary" Aldossary (2,124), in the Fifa Xbox One standings. Saudi Arabia's Aldossary, 19, did not arrive yesterday owing to visa issues, with organisers PGL saying he may be replaced.
South-east Asia's lone representative is 22-year-old Malaysian Luqman "Fenrir" Haziq. It is his second outing at a top-tier tournament.