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American Taylor Fritz has a huge passion for gaming.

Gamers: Fritz On Night Time Studying & His FIFA Pursuit

American reflects on the competition and travel

ATPTour.com catches up with Taylor Fritz to learn about his passion for video games, how he plays on the road and more.

When do you remember first getting into video games?
I was always into video games. Probably my first video game ever was one of those Pokemon games on the Gameboy when I was a kid. But then I think I really got into it when I found out that you could play online against other people. Just the idea of competition like that, I mean that’s what I love about sports so much, the competition.

When I was a kid that was the most entertaining thing to me, going up against somebody else. So when I found out I could go on Xbox with my friends and play Call of Duty at night against other people and talk [smack] to them while doing it, it was really fun for me. So I think that probably happened around sixth or seventh grade.

I’d come home from school every day and tell my parents I did my homework and get on Xbox with my friends and play Call of Duty. I think that’s where it started for me, probably. We would do zombies, we would do multiplayer, we would do everything. I just think once it got to the point where I could actually play with people and against people, that’s when it really piqued my interest a lot.

If you had to pick your three favourite games, what would they be?
It’d be easier to say of all time. So at the peak of the game I enjoyed it the most, probably the first couple of months that Fortnite was out is pretty unbeatable. Just the friends hopping on and stuff. Then, probably Call of Duty Black Ops 2 I played a lot of. I loved that game. And then, as a kid I also played a lot of World of Warcraft. I’d say that’s up there for me, too.

At what point did it become more of a serious thing and not just having fun with friends?
I mean, it still is. That’s what it is. I just became better at it from doing it a lot and me just being the competitive person that I am. Whatever game I’m playing, I’m always watching better people play, I’m studying what they’re doing.

When I’m in bed going to sleep, I’ll watch videos and such to try to get that little extra that might make me better at the game. I’ll do stuff like that and I just got better at certain games though playing and learning and watching. So it’s still just fun for me, but it’s just nice that I can play in some of these events and compete with good players.

What are you best at right now?
Probably Apex Legends, it’s a pretty popular game right now. I’d say that’s probably my best game right now. But the best I’ve ever been at a game for sure was FIFA. I got injured back in 2016, 2017. It was FIFA 17 at the time and I played that game so much when I was injured, I studied it so much and practised so much, I got to Top 100 in North America.

That was the first year they had rankings in FIFA, they had a ranking system, so I got really into it that year because I was really motivated to try and get on the leaderboard.

Do you care about soccer besides FIFA, or do you just like the video game?
FIFA helped get me into soccer. I like watching soccer, it’s probably my second-favourite sport to watch.

When did you start carrying stuff with you on the road?
It’s changed a lot throughout the years. Now, I’ve realised the easiest way to do it is just to bring a gaming PC, plug a controller into it, and then I’ve got my screen, my console. Everything is all together. It’s very easy to do that. Now there’s crossplay, so if you’re on a computer you can play with people on PlayStation and Xbox.

Back a while ago you couldn’t do that, so I would bring a PlayStation so I could still play with all of my friends. I’d pack the PlayStation — it was a slim PlayStation — in my backpack, and then I’d put a 24-inch monitor, the screen, into my suitcase. Then maybe I’d put the stand for the monitor in my tennis bag. To be honest, it was pretty easy. It seems like a lot, but it was pretty easy to bring it week-to-week. But now it’s so easy, I just bring a gaming laptop, put it in my backpack and that’s it.

So it takes no time to even set up?
It’s literally just taking out a laptop and putting in a charger, maybe plugging in a mouse, plugging in a controller, but nothing crazy.

How much does it help you get away a little bit from tennis?
It definitely helps me to not be bored. Especially when last year we had a lot of tournaments where we couldn’t leave the room, you were just kind of killing time. In weeks where we’re in a cool city and my friends are there, I won’t take out the games much at all, because I’ll have stuff to do.

It definitely just helps if I’m bored. And obviously after practices I’m tired, so I don’t really want to go out and do stuff. It’s kind of just something to do in the room that can be fun.

How much of a respect do you have for all of these e-sport athletes?
A lot. I like to watch e-sports a lot, I love watching competitive play. It’s amazing how good these guys are at a lot of these games, and they really work at it and I can’t imagine it’s even fun at that point when you’re doing it that much. People probably look at tennis and are like ‘Oh, it’s so fun’ but practising four or five hours a day is not fun.

You do something so much, once it becomes a profession, you’re working at it so much, it’s not that much fun anymore (laughs). So these guys, I have a lot of respect for how hard they work to become so good at it.

You got involved in an e-sports team. What can you tell me about that?
I’m just part of a company that owns a Call of Duty league team, the London Ravens, and then Rogue, which is a big e-sports organisation across many different games. They have the top team in Europe for League of Legends, which is the biggest e-sport in the world right now, so I’m excited to watch them. They’re in the World Championships and it’s starting really soon, so I’ll be watching that.

Is it interesting to see from a business perspective, seeing all aspects of the whole e-sports business?
Yeah, it’s awesome. A lot of my friends at home in Los Angeles are people that are involved in the gaming industry, so I’m pretty tied into it. It’s been really cool meeting a lot of these people and understanding the ins and outs of the industry and it’s something I’ve always been interested in.

How big of a setup do you have at home?
I got a whole thing at home, it’s nice. That’s the one thing about travelling, I’ll be on the road and I’ll be playing on my laptop. It’s a smaller screen, not great internet, it’s just not the same. It’s always nice to go home. I just have a desk with a nice PC, a really solid PC, and two big screens. It’s just really nice, I love coming home.

It’s your video game corner...
Yeah, I’ve got a little game room. I definitely want to improve it even more, but it’s a lot so I think I’m gonna wait until I move again and then I’m going to really go big on it.

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