F2Tekkz: How winning the Fifa FUT Champions Cup changed his life

Donovan Hunt
Donovan Hunt competes for the F2 Freestylers esports team

In September 2017, Donovan Hunt - like many people his age - enrolled at college. Four months later, his life changed.

Aged 16, he won the Fifa FUT Champions Cup - a professional esports tournament with a top prize of nearly £17,500.

Sixteen months on, Hunt - known as F2Tekkz - has met his idol Steven Gerrard, beaten England forward Raheem Sterling on Fifa, and played football against Kaka at Old Trafford.

'It's crazy - I was just a normal kid at college'

Hunt, now 17, lives with his family in the Midlands. He was born in Devon but moved north with his family because a slow internet connection was affecting his gaming.

He started playing Fifa at the age of five, but it wasn't until two years ago he realised how good he was.

And then he won his first major event - in Barcelona.

"I had about 300 Twitter followers before the event, but when I got back I'd gained about 50,000 - it was crazy," he says.

"Before that tournament I was just a normal kid at college. When I got home, some guy came up to me, and was like: 'Aren't you that kid who won the Fifa tournament?'"

Donovan Hunt with his FUT Champions Cup trophy
Donovan, then 16, after winning his breakthrough FUT Champions Cup tournament

'What? Gerrard has messaged me?!'

Following his success in Barcelona, Donovan received offers from a number of professional esports teams - but had his heart set on just one.

The F2 Freestylers - Billy Wingrove and Jeremy Lynch - are a football freestyle duo whose skills videos on YouTube have had nearly two billion views.

"The F2 wanted to get into esports and one of the reasons they approached me was because I do a lot of skills in-game," says Donovan.

"They're all about skills and my style fits their brand. I knew I wanted to sign with them."

After joining the F2, Donovan received a surprise video containing a welcome message from former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.

"I just sat there staring at the video and I don't think I said a word," he says.

"I was like: 'What? Gerrard has messaged me?!'

"Before joining F2 I never thought I'd meet players like Steven Gerrard. I'm a Liverpool fan and he's every Liverpool fan's hero."

Donovan Hunt, Steven Gerrard, Billy Wingrove and Jeremy Lynch at Liverpool's Melwood training ground.
Donovan (right centre) and the F2's Billy Wingrove (right) and Jeremy Lynch (left) with Steven Gerrard at Liverpool's Melwood training ground.

'Dad wanted me to work at the corner shop'

With three big tournament wins in the past year, Donovan is widely recognised as one of the world's best Fifa 19 players.

Reaching that level has taken him hours upon hours of practice.

"When a new Fifa game comes out, I play about 10 hours a day, every day," he says.

"But after a couple of months you only need to play a couple of hours per day to keep on top of the game."

Donovan's Fifa Ultimate Team starting line-up
Donovan's Fifa Ultimate Team XI. The game mode consists of building your dream line-up of players both past and present, and facing other people's teams online

Some of his family weren't completely on board with his professional gaming aspirations at first.

"There was a corner shop that had just been built outside my house when I lived in Devon," he says.

"My dad was like: 'Go and get a job there.' I was like: 'No, I need to keep playing Fifa.'

"My mum's supported me the whole time and my dad came around when I qualified for my first major."

But which footballer is best at Fifa?

Since joining the F2, Donovan has faced several footballers, including Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling.

So how did the England international get on?

Raheem Sterling and Donovan Hunt
Donovan met Sterling for a game of Fifa and it didn't end well for the England international...

"He picked Man City but I wanted to score against him using Sterling - so I picked England," says Donovan.

"I won't say what the score was because I don't want to embarrass him."

Donovan says the best footballer he's played is Reading midfielder David Meyler.

"We've played a few times and the scores were very close each time - he's probably the best. [West Ham midfielder] Declan Rice is pretty good too."

Facing a Ballon d'Or winner at Old Trafford

Donovan's football experience is not just limited to the screen - he's even faced Ballon d'Or winner Kaka at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium.

Playing for F2FC, a side set up under the freestylers' brand, Donovan faced Tango Squad FC, who are managed by Xabi Alonso. The ex-Spain midfielder's team features street footballers and a handful of ex-pros - most notably former Brazil forward Kaka.

"It was weird playing against him," says Donovan.

"I didn't want to tackle him because I was like: 'I can't touch Kaka!'"

Donovan Hunt at Old Trafford
Donovan warming up at Old Trafford, before going up against Kaka

'I don't care about the money - I want to win the trophy'

The rewards are big at the top level of esports, and Donovan has won more than £65,000 in prize money from his three tournament wins.

"When I go to the tournaments, I don't really care about the money," he says. "I just want to win the trophy.

"I think the first thing I bought was a new hoodie. But I also paid for a holiday for my mum to San Francisco - she'd wanted to go there her whole life.

Still short of his 18th birthday, Donovan has only one thing in his mind - winning the biggest tournament on the calendar, which was watched by more than 29 million people last year.

"My main goal is to become champion at the Fifa eWorld Cup Grand Final at the end of the year," he says.

If the past year is anything to go by, you wouldn't bet against him achieving his dream.

Donovan Hunt
Donovan, known online as F2Tekkz, is the only esports player signed to the F2 at present.

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