The eScottish Football Cup – Tomorrow is Never Promised

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By Lee Clark
There was a time when ‘gaming’ was something you did for an hour before bed or enjoyed with the rest of the family on a Sunday night.  Those old enough to remember will recall eSport classics such as Daly Thompson’s Decathlon, Sensible Soccer, World Class Leaderboard and of course EA’s FIFA International Soccer in 1993.  The release instantly took the UK by storm, becoming the best-selling game of the year and, as an excited 11-year-old I can vividly remember thinking that it was quite simply the best thing I had ever played. Being the first football game to be officially licensed by the sport’s governing body, it really was a step up from anything we had seen before and hours and hours of a weekend were lost to FIFA. In fact, the game made such an impression on me, even now I could just say the name ‘Brian Plank’ to my circle of mates and they would instantly know I was talking about Germany’s star striker from that release. (nb: in those days they couldn’t use official player names. Brian Plank was a producer at EA Sports who obviously fancied a run up front for the best team in the World at the time). Fast forward 30 years and the gaming World has taken astronomical strides and with FIFA going from strength to strength it’s not just about playing the game with your mates anymore, its big business.

Across the World, competing in eSports is now very much considered to be a full time ‘job’ and in a football mad Country like the UK it’s one of the fastest growing professions with several Universities offering degree level qualifications within the industry. The introduction of the 2019 ePremier League in England was a huge step for gamers and it has now found its way up to Scotland as the inaugural eScottish Football Cup takes place this weekend at Hampden Park with a confirmed prize fund of £50k (£20k to the winners). Up to 70 Clubs have been invited to take part in the two-day event and for a Rangers daft family from Stirling, it’s a dream come true as huge FIFA fan and Bluenose, Adam Ryan will take his place as part of a two man team, as they represent Rangers FC in a FIFA tournament across both the Xbox and PlayStation platforms.

Despite his young age of 22 Adam has huge experience as a competitive gamer and has been playing FIFA since the 2006 release (when he was just seven). He beat off dozens of other hopefuls at a specially arranged qualifying tournament held at Edmiston House, just hours before he watched the first team demolish Celtic 3-0, in the final Old Firm match of the season.  He has played in tournaments in countries such as Denmark and Sweden as well as representing both Watford and Brentford in the aforementioned ePremier League, and was also the first eSports PlayStation player to represent the Scottish National Team, something he has done since 2021, gaining 68 caps. Despite those achievements Adam says nothing will compare to finally being able to represent Rangers at a proper tournament, something he has dreamt of doing for a long time:

Basically I’ve done everything I can to get involved in the eSports industry, in any role possible. I’d always played FIFA but around about the 2017 release, I started taking it more seriously and got to a level where I won almost every match I played online. I never knew it could be a career until 2019 when I qualified for a live event in Sweden. My dad actually came with me because I was too young to go myself. After that, I worked at an eSports event in London in the admin team, then the production team a year later, then the year after that I was good enough to be a player there and was able to move down to do it full-time. I’ve since come back to Scotland and work as a part-time eSports lecturer at Dundee and Angus College as well as playing and coaching competitively. This is the first time Rangers have ever been involved in an eSports Tournament, so to be able to represent my team is a dream come true.

Adam’s success, thus far, is due in no small part to the support and financial backing from his family and in particular his Dad, Mark.  Unfortunately, the family suffered devastating news just under a year ago as Mark was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a lifelong condition that affects the brain and nerves. It was shattering for them all but, Mark has insisted Adam and his brothers, remain positive and grasp any opportunity that comes their way.  Adam took this advice literally at the weekend as he was able to take advantage of a free parking spot at Edmiston House and arrange tickets to the game afterwards. Mark’s condition means he requires support to walk and struggles to cover any great distance but, being so close to the stadium, support from club stewards and officials as well as the lure of being able to see Adam represent Rangers, was too good an opportunity to pass up. Adam’s tweet of the two of them celebrating a thumping Rangers victory went viral after it was shared multiple times by his 20k followers on the social media platform.

When I put that tweet out, I never meant it to go viral. I sometimes struggle to show my emotions to the people close to me and I know he reads all of my tweets. I was just so happy that he was there and to see us win was an amazing moment. The messages of support we received from other Rangers fans and fans from other clubs was very humbling. After the game, my dad obviously couldn’t walk round the stadium so security let us through the barrier. Niko Raskin was walking past and saw him struggling, he stopped to check he was okay and shook his hand. The whole day was like a marathon for him and this all but confirmed it was probably his last ever game but, we are all so happy he managed to come. It was the best day of my life getting to share this day with him.

Adam says he hopes to use gaming and the ever-expanding community, to raise awareness about MS as well as raising money for MS related charities as he continues to build an impressive career within the industry. With only five professional players active in Scotland, Adam would love to see that number expand and admits the ultimate dream is to represent Rangers in a global tournament.

I owe everything about this opportunity to my Dad. Ever since my first tournament he has always encouraged me to try and make a career from eSports. If he didn’t push me, I wouldn’t be doing it now. There were so many low points where most parents would have lost faith and told me to get a ‘real’ job but he let me keep going, put a roof over my head and even gave up going to see Rangers in order to provide for us. I’ll always be grateful. My Dad has seen me play FIFA in 8 different countries, live on sky sports, represent my country and to now represent the club we love has just topped it all off. This past year has taught me that tomorrow is never promised and I’ll continue to follow my dream.

Adam will be tweeting updates from this weekend’s tournament including details of how you can watch the event unfold through a live stream. All Bluenoses on twitter are encouraged to show him and Rangers your support by tweeting @AdamRyanFIFA

Good Luck Lads!

Lee Clark

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