SBC News Orville 'KDem' Shannon - Empire Arcadia Silverbirds - Going Pro in FIFA

Orville ‘KDem’ Shannon – Empire Arcadia Silverbirds – Going Pro in FIFA

EA announced its launch of an esports division back in December 2015 with Peter Moore also announced as COO. OrvilleKDemShannon

The best known EA Sports franchise is undoubtedly FIFA, and with the latest FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC) televised on networks including Fox and Sky Sports, the company is aiming to continue to push the popular title further into the realm of competitive gaming.

The continued expansion of the FIWC is expected this year ahead of the 2017 finals, and one team in Jamaica is getting prepared. We spoke to Orville ‘KDem’ Shannon of the Empire Arcadia Silverbirds about the life of a professional FIFA player and the growth of his local scene in Jamaica.

SBC: When did you first start playing FIFA and when did you realise you could do it professionally?

Orville: I played my first FIFA game in 1994 on the old black and white GameBoy that I’d been given as a gift! I’ve been playing and following the franchise ever since; adapting to the new changes in the game play mechanics with every new edition. I met some other guys here in Jamaica and we trained extensively with one another to become as good as we are today. We formed our own FIFA group called the The Silverbirds and we’ve played against other top players nationwide in some fierce competitions to become one of the top teams in the series.

In 2013 we went to St. Maarten for a inter-Caribbean tournament called VXG as they had a FIFA Esports competition there. This was the perfect setting for us to test out just how good we were. Different people representing their islands in the Caribbean were present so naturally the Silverbirds had to represent Jamaica. It was then that the opportunity for us to turn professional came up as the head and founder of the Silverbirds Dean Barnnett met with Isaiah ‘TriForce’ Johnson and it was agreed that we’d play officially as the FIFA division for Empire Arcadia.

In storybook fashion I won the tournament for our team, defeating all other Caribbean islands and we returned to Jamaica as the undisputed Caribbean champions. Today I compete in all types of tournaments in Jamaica from Digicel to Incontrol, as well as in division one online tournaments with some of the best players globally. I realised that in order to continue to play at the highest level I need to compete with the best players wherever and whenever I can. 

SBC: How big is the FIFA esports scene in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America?

Orville: I would personally say that FIFA is easily the number one game played in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say throughout Latin America as well. I’ve encountered numerous players from the Latin America region online playing at the highest level that the game has to offer. Internet problems can make it somewhat tricky on games to truly gauge who is better because lag can interrupt the game and that alone is enough to change the outcome.

I sometime wonder how things would pan out in a physical setting. Things are improving a lot for online play in Jamaica thanks to Digicel putting out a new internet service called Digicel Play and it really takes away the lag. I now wonder how we would do against players outside of the Caribbean along with other great players who compete in the FIFA Interactive World Cup? 2016 is the year to find out where we are on the world stage.

SBC: What are your thoughts on the global competitive FIFA scene, the FIWC and what EA could do to expand and push it onwards?

Orville: First I must say I love the concept of FIFA Interactive World Cup and I have been following the competition since 2013 after we won the Inter-Caribbean Championship. FIWC is simply the biggest stage a FIFA player can ever wish to compete on and it’s the next step for myself and the Silverbirds.

As it relates to its development, I think if EA could host qualifiers in other countries like Jamaica, or track online stats and contact top players to give them a chance to showcase their skills in this grand event, then it would reward us for all the hard work we put into the game. I’m not just speaking for myself, my team or country. I speak for all of Latin America when I say that.

I’m not certain but I don’t think FIFA or EA are aware that a lot of people here in the Caribbean that play the game, both casually and competitively, know about the FIWC and the global competitive FIFA scene. It is one of the largest in my opinion and playing for a official esports team I’m aware of EA’s big move for a global push for FIFA esports. It further motivates me to continue playing and training hard as it’s only a matter of time before we’ll get to represent Jamaica again but this time on the world stage.

SBC: With DaveBTW being signed up to represent Wolfsburg alongside Benedikt Saltzer do you see a day in the near future when all major clubs will have an official FIFA representative on their books?

Orville: Yes, I can definitely see that happening because it’s a win for both the club and FIFA. I can’t wait to see that replicated all around the world!

SBC: Who is, in your opinion, the best FIFA player globally right now? And what are your plans for the rest of 2016?

Orville: I think B Krasi is the best player in the world, he’s a three time FIWC grand finalist and his consistency is unquestionable. He’s also a popular Youtuber and that ability to be able to connect with the rest of the world is useful. There is a lot that he can learn and a lot that he can teach other aspiring players such as myself. He best be prepared however because when he looks in his rear view mirror he’ll see me and the Silverbirds getting ever closer!

As for the rest of 2016, myself and the team will continue to train and compete here on the local and inter-Caribbean level. There is a big FIFA tournament in Jamaica next month called Incontrol 3. Preparation is key because the top players throughout the country come out to this tournament and it’s far from easy to win. I finished first in the inaugural tournament and fourth in the second one. My teammate Jerome Campbell won the second Incontrol tournament so we’re aiming to keep the championship in the team!

Outside of that we’ll continue our work to try and help bring an official qualifier for the FIWC here to Jamaica.

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