Heading into matchday for Group C, nobody was sure what to expect. After two turbulent Groups, the third and final one would carry the mantle with another epic evening of competition. Although the overall winner was no surprise to anyone, the second place certainly was. Read on as we sit down and interview Gzira United's Duane "DuaneMercieca" Mercieca, our Player of the Week as voted by you!
BOV ePremier League Group C Player of the Week - Quick Interview
Indeed, our third time celebrating an individual following an awesome day of competition, this is the Player of the Week award as powered by our partner Pepsi. For those unaware, following the Group, the public (70%) and a judging panel (30%) were empowered with the choice - the choice to pick the player who stood out from the rest.
Diving in as a serious underdog, the choice of Duane "DuaneMercieca" Mercieca is actually the only time from the Group Stage that a second-placed player has won the award - that only goes to show how impressive his performance truly was. Anyways, let's dive into the questions:
#1: Arguably escaping the toughest Group from the Group Stage, tell us, how does it feel to have earned an impressive second-place finish in such a stacked group?
Being placed in the toughest group wasn’t an easy thing to swallow. Considering this was only my first year competing in the Main Competition - I felt that I was one of the favourites to place last. However, thanks to the help of several people, I managed to improve my playstyle and this contributed immensely to my Group Stage perfomance.
Naturally, there is still a lot of work to be done and I remain grateful to be part of this competition while I keenly look forward to the finals on the 28th of May.
#2: Congratulations on being our Group C Player of the Week! Heading into this Group, you had some of the top statistics in the attacking department, with the highest Goals Scored per Match (3.94) which certainly proved essential to your success - tell us, what makes your attack so successful?
Obviously practice makes perfect, but I owe it all to all the competitve FIFA players I had the privilege to play against. Indeed, they helped me learn a great deal through several practice matches.
#3: With this being one of the first few times you've competed at this level, in an offline environment, you rose to the occasion and proved yourself. How does it feel about competing in such an environment compared to online and what do you believe is the approach that helped you adapt so quickly to the high pressure?
Honestly, I prefer to play in an offline environment rather than an online environment. The reason is that at home, my gaming setup as well as the connection, is much less techincally advanced and fast respectively, when compared to the provided during the Offline Qualifier and the Group Stage.
With regards to my approach, as you perfectly said, I managed to adapt very quickly as I knew I was considered to be the “underdog” in this group. Thus, the lack of expectations helped me to focus on myself and my skills rather than focusing on proving myself to the audience and the other participants. Overall, I believe this played a key role in my results because as one might tell, I was very relaxed for the majority of the Group Stage.
#4: Indeed, the key to your second-place finish was a huge opening match against Sliema Wanderers, where you managed an overall 5-5 scoreline against arguably, the favourite for the entire competition - how did you prepare for this match and manage to keep it so close? Did you have any particular strategy at hand?
As soon as I saw that my first match was going to be against Sliema Wanderers, I knew that I had to start off by giving it my all. To prepare for this match, I played against a lot of professional FIFA players to get used to the way players of such a level play and to familiarise myself with what I might encounter against Sliema Wanderers.
As many might have expected, in this round experience prevailed and served as a key factor in Sliema Wanderers’ win overall and in the draw against myself. Bearing this in mind, I do believe that if I had more experience and payed more attention to what my coach was telling me during the game, I wouldn’t have conceded certain goals when I was 3-0 up until the late part of the second half of the first leg against Sliema Wanderers.
#5: To conclude, we'd love to know your thoughts for the future. Headed to the Knockout Stage, with everything on the line, what are your goals for the final event? Do you think you'll try to improve or change anything in your playstyle before the event?
Reaching the Knockout Stage has already far exceeded my expectations - the fact that I made it to the Main Event was more than enough considering that I am new to the scene. Now that I'm here, I will surely continue to train to improve and do my best for the Finals.
With regards to my playstyle, I have already and will continue to adapt a new and improved playstyle which is completely different from the Group Stage and I am looking forward to see the effect of this playstyle in the Knockout Stage.
And just like that, after managing to hold his own against the season favourite of Luke "LukeBartolo99" Bartolo, the entire community now knows his name. Indeed, as made clear in the great answers above, the mental game is essential when competing at this level - competing with nothing to lose makes you that much more unpredictable and dangerous.
We're excited to see how Duane "DuaneMercieca" Mercieca carries this momentum forward into the next stage of the competition.