I’m in a celebratory mood after winning one of the latest tournaments on offer in FIFA Ultimate Team, all while playing a team and formation I’m not particularly used to. So as a follow-up to the last Ultimate Team ramblings I thought I’d offer a few simple things you can do to improve your online play and hopefully set you on course to winning a few trophies… assuming you need the advice of-course.
The majority of these pointers can be applied to general FIFA play, but seeing as though I spend all of my time on UT, I’m taking my experiences from there. I should probably state that I’m not amazing at FIFA, there are certainly better players out there. At the time of writing this my record stands at 446 wins 20 draws and 155 losses, and I’ve managed to win 25 tournaments; 20 at gold level, 1 at Silver, and 4 at Bronze. But, as you can see by my record, I’m no stranger to a few defeats either. Lets get to it
Your formation is one of the most important steps when starting your team, but it took me a very long time to realise this. When I started playing UT I used the normal flat 4-4-2 formation and it didn’t suit my style of play at all. You see, I prefer to hog the ball. I can see more of the ball, and I can also get it back quickly, which means that there’s more of a chance that I can relax and go on to win the game.
While playing 4-4-2 I was all over the place. I had a varied amount of success but nothing really fantastic. It wasn’t until I got beat in a gold-level final that I had a good idea of how to be better. The guy that I had just played messaged me post-game suggesting that I tried different formations, as my play style left me too exposed.
At first I tried a 4-3-3, but that just made me worse. Then I moved to 4-1-2-1-2, and my possession style fell comfortably hand-in-hand with the formation. The presence of a defensive midfielder allowed adequate cover while the diamond positioning of the four midfielders allowed me to have a pass available at all times. Perfect for frustrating the life out of the opposition.
If possession isn’t really your thing, then 4-3-2-1 is probably the most effective formation you can adopt, to counter attack as direct and as quickly as possible. The beauty (or on the flip side the most frustrating thing) about this formation is that it doesn’t matter how much pressure your team is under, your front three players are virtually guaranteed a break on goal if you can intercept the ball and get it up-field as quickly as possible. I’d argue that this formation even works more efficiently when you don’t have the ball and are playing on the counter attack; it’s horrid to play against.
If you play with anything less than 100 chemistry you are giving yourself a disadvantage. Winning trophies is hard enough without having your players wander around out of their position, or not making good enough runs to be able to connect with passes. Before you do anything in Ultimate Team, achieving 100 chemistry should be a primary target.
Get off that right trigger
Just stop. So many players are dependant on the sprint button that it ruins their game completely. While in possession of the ball you should only really be using this sprint button in short burst to effectively allow you to change direction and sucker people into making tackles. Obviously if you have been put through on goal and want to make sure the defenders don’t catch you then the sprint button becomes necessary. The same goes if you’re counter attacking down the wings. But just give it a try. Once you gain control of the ball just move it around without the need to be holding the sprint button at the same time. You’d be surprised how many spaces you can open up and players you can take the ball past when you stop restricting your movement by holding the sprint button.
Move the ball quickly
I know I literally just said to slow down and keep off the sprint button but that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t move the ball around quickly. The most effective way of out-smarting your opponent is by doing things quicker. I know how painfully obvious this is but you will see a guaranteed improvement by combining this step with the one above. I’m not just talking about ping-pong passing the ball around either because the first time pass function on FIFA 12 is, well, lets just say inconsistent. Get the ball, turn into space and pass it on as quickly as possible.
The more comfortable you become in possession and the faster you are at moving the ball around will not only make it hard for the opponent to retrieve the ball, but it will be easy to pick a through-pass when they inevitably become frustrated and start pushing more players towards you. A good example of this can be seen in my recent video against fellow craicsmith Simon, where I quickly yet calmly moved the ball around, all the way back to the keeper to eventually play it back up the field to score with Hamsik. Approximately at 1.14 in if anyone is interested. Pass and move to success.
Covering the pass
I can’t emphasis how significant a step this is if you want to be successful in online play. I’d even go as far to say that if you don’t attempt to cover the passes or intercept the ball then you wont have a hope of winning an online trophy. There are obviously certain times when this wont be feasible, like in your final third of the pitch or outside of the box for example. Pulling defenders out of position to block a pass will more than likely just open up spaces for the strikers to run into.
Everywhere else on the pitch this is a must. A simple way of achieving this is by using the RB button to call in a second man to close the player with the ball, while that player is closing him down, move the player you are controlling to cover a position where it looks likely that your opponent will pass. Intercepting the ball and counter attacking is also a sure-fire way of catching your opponent with their pants down, and it is arguably the most effective way of creating those goalscoring chances.
Last ditch defending
No matter how good you are at FIFA you will still be in a situation where at some point you will be put on the back foot. So how do you cope when the opposition has broken through your midfield and you’re left with only the last line of players to defend with? Well, like with most of these points, it will depend on the situation. If your opponent is breaking into your half with no support and only one player up, then by all means rush him as fast as possible whilst calling in the second man. But in all other situations just hold off.
I know this goes against everything in your head that is telling you to rush the ball as quickly as possible but just stand-off the man. 50% of the players you will face online will spend the entire game trying to play a one-two pass between their forwards hoping to attract your defenders to the ball so that they can play a simple ball through the middle. If you’ve played much FIFA online then you will know exactly what I’m talking about.
So what you will need to do is focus on tracking the run with the player you control, and not moving towards the ball. Call the second man to send another player to press the ball while you safely cover the runner. Occasionally you will have to manually drag your player to the runner as the cpu intelligence will lead your players towards an opponent with the ball. If you don’t do this then I guarantee that taking this step will result in an improvement and cut-out conceding simple goals almost instantly.
I never used to bother with skill moves at all. Mostly because I would just panic and wave the stick in twenty different directions then watch my player do absolutely nothing but dally on the ball until someone embarrassingly took it from me. I started learning just one skill and then trying to implement it into my gameplay. Once I had mastered its use I attempted a few of the more complex ones. Before I knew it I was winning tight games with the aid of skills I never thought I’d ever be able to pull-off, never mind use in a competitive game.
The roulette is one of the more easy yet most effective ways of beating an opponent that is heading directly at you. All you need to do is hold the skill modifier, point the directional stick in the opposite way you are running the curve it around 180*, either left or right depending on what direction you want to turn in.
The Ronaldo Chop is another skill move that can easily take a player out of the game with very little difficulty. Start simple, work your way upwards and then you will see that adding a skill move here and there can be the difference between winning a tight game and not winning at all. I also find I enjoy scoring a lot more when I’ve incorporated some sort of skill move in the build up aswell.
Here’s a great tutorial video with all you need to know about how to implement these moves into your play.
Don’t ask me about how to make loads of coins because I’m rubbish at it. My primary way is by entering tournaments and hoping to win. Well, that and playing a silly amount of games. My trade profit is well into the minuses.
Ok, this one is a little dirty. Not dirty in a wink-wink kind of way, but dirty in a “I’m going to punch my tv screen when someone does it to me” kind of way. So what do you do when someone breaks through your back line, has the ball outside of the box, and is clear through on goal with a full third of the pitch to run into? If you leave your goalkeeper on his line it will be simple enough for the striker to run the ball up and smash it into the net. If you decide to pull your keeper off his line, with the space that will be available between your keeper and the striker, it will more than likely be simple enough for your opponent to arc his run and finesse the ball past your onrushing keeper. So what do you do?
Well, you try to trick your opponent into thinking that you’re bringing your keeper out. Just hold the button enough to make it noticeable that your bringing your keeper out and then release the button so he quickly rushes back to his goal line. This works particularly well if your defenders are closing down at pace and thus hurrying the striker into doing something faster than he would have liked to. More often than not the player will attempt to tamely finesse their shot, but with your keeper safely retreating back to the goal-line it should be a simple save to make.
This is a little crafty but is common place while playing online as it is sadly very effective.
Don’t quit as soon as you go behind. It appears to be creeping into Ultimate Team more and more of late. What is the point in playing if you’re just going to quit every time you get beat? How will you ever improve?
Also, try not to rage. I say this like I’m some sort of angel but I have broken a few control pads playing FIFA over the years. Once I’m raging I can’t play and the more I can’t play the more I rage. If you’re getting hammered just try to claw a goal back. If you’re defence is getting ripped a new one, try to right the wrongs.
In the past when I’ve found myself on the wrong end of a hammering, I often just write the game off as a loss in my head and try to salvage as much as I can in terms of pride. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve come back from games that look like certain defeats because I’ve refused to give in. Often players fly out in the opening few minutes of the game but as it wears on they get complacent.
A goal also changes a lot mentally, if someone is defending a 3 or 4-0 lead they can easily be put on the back foot if you score a goal and begin to dominate possession. It also feels far better going down valiantly than quitting in the first half, that’s for sure.
Finally, this isn’t a tip that will help you out much, but the more people who take heed of it the better. Don’t be a dick. If you score, unless it’s an amazing goal, don’t sit through all the damn replays. Even when I score decent goals I tend just to watch them back at full-time instead of making someone sit through it again. Also, don’t gloat if you score. Some of the celebrations get abused on FIFA, I see kids all the time scoring cut back goals then running around for 10 minutes while cupping their ear or shushing with a finger on their lip. Its poor sportsmanship and it will inevitably make you look silly when you concede then rage quit.
That just about concludes a few of my basic points on how to improve your online FIFA 12 play. If you think I’ve missed anything out, or disagree with any of my pointers, then let me know in the comment section below.