Defending champion Yannic Bederke speaks to bundesliga.com ahead of the VBL Grand Final by bevestor about the pressure to defend his title and changes in the latest FIFA video game.
bundesliga.com: Yannic Bederke, it's been a year since you became the German individual champion. What has changed in your life since then?
Yannic Bederke: "It was definitely a dramatic experience, and a lot's changed since then, such as my general view of eSports. Before that it was more like: 'let's see how good I actually am.' When I won the title, I realised: 'Ok, I'm really good at what I do.' Then of course there's more pressure in the games. While FIFA was just a hobby before, you're naturally more in the spotlight after such a win. You'll be talked about on the VBL matchdays. If things don't go well, it immediately creates waves. My private life has also changed. I live in a small village and when the newspaper reported on me, a lot of people noticed me. Then suddenly there were comments at the checkout in the supermarket, for example."
bundesliga.com: What did you buy with the prize money back then?
Bederke: "I'd actually planned to use it for a holiday, but unfortunately that wasn't yet possible due to the coronavirus pandemic. That's why I saved the money first."
bundesliga.com: What would you do if you were to defend the title?
Bederke: "I'd definitely get a new car. My current one's already a few years old and then hopefully it'll work out with the holiday!
bundesliga.com: As the defending champion you are hunted somewhat. Do you feel that pressure?
Bederke: "You can always feel that pressure, but there are many in the field who still have a bit more pressure than me. After successes like winning the FUT Champions Cup, the expectation on someone like 'DullenMIKE' has also increased. It's more of an extra motivation for me to really want to defend the title. I know that every player wants to be where I am and ultimately want to hold the title in their hands."
bundesliga.com: What is your preparation like, what do you focus on?
Bederke: "The preparation's already started. The VBL playoffs were three weeks ago, and I used the players who'd prepared for the playoffs as training partners. I built a Bundesliga team in FIFA Ultimate Team and tried out a few players. Which players can I use, which players suit my style of play? At the moment, my primary focus is in attack and taking chances, which is where I have my biggest problems in FIFA 21. Since the game got a bit trickier this year and I wasn't very well known for skills in the previous FIFA, I integrated that into my style of play. I missed a lot of good chances in the VBL and I'm currently analysing that together with my brother Philipp. There aren't many chances at the VBL Grand Final and whoever is more clinical wins in the end."
bundesliga.com: You've already built a team, who's your favourite player?
Bederke: "Clearly the FUT birthday card for Marco Reus. This year it's all about skill moves and Reus has five stars for that. He also has four stars for his weaker foot, so he's almost two-footed. His values like speed, balance and dribbling are simply outstanding. He also has good passing, so you can use him at No.10, up front or out on the wing."
bundesliga.com: The VBL playoffs took place almost three weeks ago, how did you follow the event?
Bederke: "On Saturday it was really difficult, as Augsburg had a really important game at the same time, to try and stay up. After the win against Bremen I was free to join our livestream in the WWK Arena on Sunday and support Philipp and Christoph. In the end it got really exciting and I'm very happy that we're represented with three players in the VBL Grand Final. Afterwards, of course, I also followed the other events of the playoffs: It's no surprise to me that XBOX players like Sakul, Niklas Raseck and 'DullenMIKE' qualified. However, there are also participants like 'Louis176', who I'd never heard of before. In general, some big names are not included. 'MegaBit', who's always been my biggest rival in recent years, missed qualification, and also 'MoAuba'."
bundesliga.com: Were these playoffs a warning from the young players to the established ones like you?
Bederke: "I think that there's a change of generations taking place, especially in FIFA 21. There are some young players who are making it big now and I think the more experienced ones can no longer rest on their laurels. The development is currently progressing very, very quickly."
Watch: Highlights of Augsburg's 2-0 win over Bremen
bundesliga.com: It's not your first Grand Final, how can your experience help you?
Bederke: "Of course, the experience helps me. I noticed in my first Grand Final that you're just very nervous at the beginning. I won't be able to completely shed my nervousness this year either, but you learn to deal with it more and more. In my opinion, this is very important, because you have to keep a cool head, especially in pressure situations like a draw in the fin al minutes, or if you fall behind. At that time I was very nervous, when I fell behind, you can overthink it. Dealing with nervousness properly will be an essential point."
bundesliga.com: What do you expect of yourself?
Bederke: "Last year the goal was to get through the group stage and then see how far I could take it. This year the goal is to win the thing again if possible. I think once you're the title holder, it's clear that you definitely want to win the tournament again. With strong competition, however, this isn't so easy to do, even if you perform at your best. We're still playing FIFA, and anything can happen, but I definitely want to get back to the final at least."
bundesliga.com: How do you rate your competitors?
Bederke: The competition this year is at least as good as last year, actually even stronger. This year the Ultimate Team mode is being played and many feel much more comfortable there than in the 85 mode, which I felt most comfortable in last year. In Ultimate Team you could see that the first three FUT Champions Cups all went to XBOX players from Germany. Accordingly, I think that the competition will be a tad tougher there."