‘A massive project with great promise’: Phoenix team leader Shishkin on Games of the Future and his favorite football sim

Aprilia Rine

‘A massive project with great promise’: Phoenix team leader Shishkin on Games of the Future and his favorite football sim

Having professional football players on the team is no guarantee of winning the Games of the Future gold in Kazan, said Roman Shishkin, the leader and founder of the Phoenix team, in an interview with RT. According to the former player of Spartak Moscow, his team could face competition from Lokomotiv and Rotor, as well as from Brazil’s R10 Team and Tamo Junto. The ex-defender of the Russian national team also shared how he got the idea to take part in the tournament and which football simulator he favored as a child.

— The Games of the Future kicked off in Kazan, where you will compete in the phygital football event. When did you arrive at the tournament?

— Two days ago. Today, I attended the opening ceremony. I hear a lot that this is a massive event that has a lot of promise for the future, and I believe it is. As for our team, we are looking forward to the start of the tournament. We want to dive into training and into the game itself as soon as possible.

— You will be representing the Phoenix team at phygital football events. How did you get the idea to start a team and enter the competition?

— I got the opportunity to put together a team thanks to the support of the MSN company. I could say I did most of the work. (Laughs.) We formed the team pretty quickly, and it includes both esports players and football professionals who are former athletes with a lot of experience. We tested our skills as a team, we liked it, and in May we participated in a preliminary tournament, the 5th Phygital Games. We took first place there, and thanks to that we got selected for the Games of the Future here in Kazan. 

— So, is it safe to say that team Phoenix is one of the main favorites at the tournament?

— I wouldn’t say so. Our opponents are very strong: R10 Team and Tamo Junto from Brazil, and Russia’s own Lokomotiv and Rotor teams. It is going to be tough. But naturally, we will do our best to live up to our fans’ expectations.

— Certainly, there is no reason to doubt your abilities on the football field. But how are you doing on the digital one? 

— We have three cyber athletes on our team. We should probably expect them to carry most of the weight. Speaking of the physical side, two more players have recently joined our lineup: former Spartak defender and member of the Russian national team Aleksandr Sheshukov and ex-Luch and SKA-Khabarovsk forward Maksim Kazankov. By February 24, we need to decide who of them will be in the starting lineup. I think we will make up our minds closer to the start of the competition.

— How often do you practice video games in your spare time?

— I’m a dad of three, so I don’t have much time to play games. When I was a kid myself, I used to play Dendy (unofficial clone of Nintendo’s NES console) games, and when it comes to football simulators, I liked Pro Evolution Soccer (now known as eFootball) better than FIFA. Over time, FIFA became more popular than the Konami game. Now I feel like I’m going back down memory lane. Either way, we have an idea of which buttons to push. And of course, our esports players give us tips.

— Do you enjoy any other games? Like Dota 2?

— Definitely not, although I used to play games on the PC with Volodya Bystrov. That was almost 20 years ago, when we played for Spartak together. Back then we played Counter-Strike 1.6. But that was all. Like I said, I simply don’t have time for games now.

— We are getting close to the playoffs in some of the disciplines here at the Games of the Future, and soon we will know our first champions. Have you been able to attend any of the competitions?

— I haven’t had the opportunity yet, no. My schedule has been full so far: for example, today we did a photo shoot early in the morning, tomorrow we will have our first training session. We also attended other events such as the briefing and the opening ceremony. Certainly, it would be fun to watch hockey and basketball events. If I have the time for it, why not?

— As far as we know, there is going to be a gala match involving Olympic hockey champion Ilya Kovalchuk and five-time Gagarin Cup winner Danis Zaripov on Thursday . Do you plan to stop by the Tatneft Arena?

— If we get a chance, we’ll definitely give it a shot. I’ve already met Kovalchuk here. We didn’t have a chance to talk, though.

— Everyone commented on how crowded the stands are, and the fans are supporting other countries’ teams as much as their compatriots. There’s been a great deal of interest for the football tournament, too. All tickets for the matches are sold out.

— I did not know that, but I am pleasantly surprised. It’s going to be all the more satisfying to go out on the field.

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