Server issues led to two professional players in an EA-sponsored FIFA 2020 qualifying event to settle their match via a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors this weekend.
“I cannot believe it,” FIFA pro Shaun “Brandsha56” Galea tweeted. “We literally had to play a rock paper scissors becauce [sic] we couldn’t find each other to invite in an EA LICENSED QUALIFIER. WTF!! I am done.”
“All that hardwork [sic] from Phase 1 for absolutely nothing,” Galea added in a follow-up tweet (since deleted, archived here). “Phase II comes and I lose a rock paper scissors game to decide my swiss record. What else can I say? My head’s completely gone.”
Galea’s competition, Hasan “Hasoo19” Eker, confirmed in his own tweet (translated from German) that he advanced to a 3-1 record in the round “because I was able to successfully prevail in Rock Paper Scissors.”
EA tweeted a statement in response to what it called a “really unique situation,” noting that the competitors “decided to proactively play ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ to determine the match winner after they were unable to connect for their match. For context, a double-failure to connect and compete in a qualifying tournament match results in a loss for both participants. This is to prevent connection issues from being exploited as a competitive advantage.”
Indeed, official rules for FIFA online qualifying tournaments outline a set of troubleshooting steps both players should go through if the game fails to connect them. But “if after twenty (20) minutes from the start of that round beginning, Competitors cannot get connected then tournament administrators will assign a loss to both Competitors and record the incident,” the rules read.
Instead of reporting the connection problem, though, Galea and Eker agreed to the Rock, Paper, Scissors match so at least one of them would register a win. Delaying the match until the servers were more available was not an option.
For Galea, the match loss was the first of the three required to be eliminated from the swiss-style qualifying round. Eker, who had a 3-1 swiss record after winning the Rock, Paper, Scissors match, also failed to advance to the next round, according to EA.
A pitch full of problems
Galea and Eker’s match highlights widespread server issues EA says it experienced throughout the weekend. Those issues seemed particularly impactful for FIFA, which was forced to disable match creation for a few hours on Saturday even as pros were competing in qualifying matches.
The disruption came as thousands of players attempted to advance via the FIFA Weekend League, where players who have earned enough in-game points can compete for in-game rewards and pro circuit qualifier points. EA extended the Weekend League for 24 hours as a result of the connection issues.
The server problems come amid widespread complaints about the gameplay balance for this year’s edition of FIFA. “No one enjoys playing [FIFA 20],” pro player Donovan “Tekkz” Hunt said in a post-match interview last month, “because this year’s game is so unrewarding. Anyone can win, guys who aren’t good can win on FIFA 20.”
Complaints of unaddressed cheating in online matches are also bubbling up among FIFA pros. “It makes me really sad to see some of the needless issues we have in the qualifiers right now that have simple fixes,” FIFA pro and coach Nathan Zelonius Horton said on Twitter this weekend. “Blatant cheating needs to be eradicated from the Esport. It is horrible and just unfair on the players on the wrong end of this and needs fixing fast.”
Last week, EA banned controversial FIFA player Kurt “Kurt0411” Fenech from all EA games and services, after months of alleged toxic behavior, threats, and outspoken complaints about EA and FIFA. Kurt’s fans have inundated EA’s social media channels with complaints about the move in the days since.