FUT Champions is back. Yes, Weekend League has been a part of FIFA 22 since the game’s release, but it took on a new form. The reworked mode was a slightly more chill time – especially for casual players – and the staggered rewards meant that kind players would give wins away by scoring an own goal or moving defenders out of the way once they’d hit their target.
Any semblance of kindness or well-meaning between players has now gone, however. Weekend League has returned to its old ways and it’s going to be sweatier than ever. FIFA can be a toxic game at the best of times: I’ve had slurs sent to me via private message over friendly matches, and players regularly perform long dance celebrations to rub in cheeky goals in attempts to force opponents to rage quit. This happens in Weekend League, sure, but in FIFA 22 there was at least some goodwill on show.
It’s not just that the FUT Champions mode is inherently sweatier than FIFA 22’s version of Weekend League – it is, but that’s besides the point – EA has made a few decisions that deliberately make it a sweatier competition than before, and that’s no good thing.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the points you need to get rewards. You still get four points for a win and one for a loss (games go all the way to penalties instead of giving you a draw), but after you’ve played 20 games and are tallying up your rank, things have changed. You used to be rewarded for getting eight wins – 44 points if you played all your matches. That’s why people would give away wins; they needed the single points to get to 44, but wins wouldn’t take them to a higher rank or net them any more rewards. In the new mode, that threshold for the same rewards? 45 points. Instead of going 8-12, you need 9 wins. Sure, you only need eight losses to make up the numbers, but those final three matches are duds. You may as well not play them, and with everyone else sweating their asses off too, why would you?
The eight wins threshold is not the only single-point change that has made the mode worse to endure each weekend, those subtle shifts have happened right across the board. But it’s not just the points totals that have changed, rewards have been reworked too.
While rewards at the top end of the leaderboard are understandably great – only a handful of pro players and Diogo Jota will likely see those – things have changed in the bottom half. This is where the majority of players will end up, but you now need 11 wins to get your hands on a tradeable Premium Team of the Week pack. The number of red FUT Champions Player Picks is down, too, which are arguably the most coveted reward from the game mode. What better way to flex your FIFA prowess than with a red Mbappe in your squad? Or more likely, a red Josh King or Norwegian goalkeeper to eventually end up in an SBC, but you get the picture.
Rewards are sparse in the lower ranks and FUT Champions has become incredibly top-heavy. It’s hard to see how the changes benefit the majority of players – and it’s hard to see how they benefit EA either. Top FIFA streamers such as Bateson87 have already come out to express their distaste with the reworked mode, and it seems that more players will do the same as they log into their weekend’s matches over the holiday period. “This only benefits pro players,” the streamer writes. “Everyone else loses out.”
It may be a bit harsh to claim that EA has ruined Christmas, but I’m close to calling the developer a big old Grinch. The new mode drops with FIFA 22 Ultimate Team’s Season 3, which sets a worrying precedent for the new season’s challenges and rewards. Most players just don’t have the time to play this much FIFA – let alone if they have other games they want to play. Our backlogs grow as live service games demand more of our time and attention, and when companies reward us less for our efforts we’re more likely to tap out completely.
If EA is trying to capitalise on players’ time over the Christmas period, when many have holidays or time off, then the changes have had the opposite effect – for me at least. If I could have logged on to play a couple of matches after my Boxing Day leftovers and got decent rewards, I might have done so. If I’m going to be stressed and sweaty, then I’ll just play something more chilled or – heaven forbid – spend some quality time with my family.
Casual players will be turned off by this mode and likely play something else on their weekends. Seemingly unattainable prizes in FUT Champs may turn players away from Division Rivals, too, as qualification for the weekend’s action is one of the mode’s main rewards.
Are there any potential positives to the new mode? If players start using past-and-present teams and having more fun in PvP modes further down the FIFA footballing pyramid, then perhaps baffling FUT Champions changes could have a positive impact on the game as a whole. But it’s more likely that players who like to grind will be annoyed by fun teams, and players using fun teams will be annoyed when they come across another sweaty meta XI.
It’s hard to see exactly who this change is for. Sure, it gives the top one percent of players better rewards (or, more accurately, a better chance at getting better rewards thanks to EA’s “surprise mechanics”), but for the rest of us, what’s the point? Rewards are harder to get and matches will be sweatier while we’re trying to get them. I know I’ll save my Weekend League qualification token, but if this continues then I can’t see myself ever cashing it in.
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