Laura Moreno, known as LaurixGames in the esports world, reveals at the Johan Cruyff Institute‘s Football Industry Insights Seminar Series how her life has changed as a professional FIFA player
She had lived her life in anonymity until she was 30 years old. Laura Moreno occupied her days between her part-time job at the Fuengirola town hall and her favorite hideaway, a room three-quarters occupied by shelves full of characters from the world of fiction, gadgets, game console controllers, a comfortable gaming chair, and a desk that is clear except for her computer screen. Now 36 years old, she maintains her two activities, but neither her hideaway is so private nor her love of video games is purely a question of leisure. In 2019, LaurixGames became the first professional FIFA gamer in Spain and the second worldwide, after England’s Lisa Manley.
The two hours a day she used to set aside for video games would not even give her enough time now to prepare for her next game. It was an unexpected call from Mario Fernandez, CEO of the DUX Gaming club that gave her the opportunity to ‘jump to the next level’ and fully enter the world of esports as a professional player. LaurixGames now dedicates half her day to esports and currently has more than 74,000 subscribers on her YouTube (46,100) and Twitch (28,270) channels, 11,000 followers on Twitter and more than 6,000 on Instagram, the social networks where she shares her content.
She owes her love of football to her mother and her alias is a nod to her grandfather, who always addresses her with the affectionate nickname Lauri. She is a self-confessed fan of FC Barcelona and Malaga, and a fervent admirer of Leo Messi, whose move to PSG she says she understands and she will continue to support him in his new stage there. It’s all part of the profession. Her other idol, Jaime Alvarez, the great ‘Gravensen’ for gamers, is now her teammate at DUX, defending the colors of Real Zaragoza FC. Who would have thought!
Laura will be entering her fifth season in eLaLiga Santander with more support, more experience and many more followers than when she started her career in esports, perfecting her technique and strategy with the team of professionals around her and taking care of her physical and mental fitness with the help of Simba, her dog, who always accompanies her when she takes a break. The eyes do not rest when staring at a computer screen nor do the legs in a gaming chair, no matter how pro it is. Walks in the middle of nature help her to counteract hours and hours at the controls of the PlayStation and to clear her mind. There she returns to being the quiet, calm, introverted Laura, free from the nerves of competition.
How did your love affair with esports begin?
I really like real football, we’ve always watched it at home, I’ve always played, and FIFA brings together my two hobbies: football and video games. In FIFA 12, I discovered a game mode that was ‘Ultimate Team’, which is closely linked to real football and, from there, I started to share, to make videos on YouTube and then to do live streamings on the Twitch platform, which is where Mario Fernandez, CEO of DUX Gaming, contacted me and offered me a contract to be the first professional FIFA player in Spain. I couldn’t refuse!
“When Mario Fernandez contacted me and offered me a contract to be the first professional FIFA player in Spain, I couldn’t refuse!”
Did you ever think you could become a professional gamer?
No. I am a real gamer and I like to play all kinds of video games. At the beginning, I shared any kind of game, from Spiderman to World of War, it didn’t matter which. I noticed that by sharing FIFA, the viewers went up. And the more FIFA matches I shared, the more the viewers I had, 200, 300, 1,000… and I said to my sister ‘I think by sharing FIFA, maybe I can get something. Maybe not dedicate myself to it one hundred percent, but I can get something’. And that’s how it was. I attracted more attention being a woman playing because there weren’t any.
Is it a different Laura talking to me than the one we get to see on Twitch?
I think I’m very natural. As I say, I take a shower and go on camera, I’m very natural. It’s true that I’m very introverted, I get very embarrassed, but I think that since I started sharing at home and talking to people via the chat, I’m still the same with all the love they give me.
“Now I live more at night; I play a lot of hours at night, especially on weekends, when we have 30 games”
How has your life changed since you turned pro?
Now I live more at night; I play a lot of hours at night, especially on weekends, when we have 30 games, and I put in a lot of hours. Before I played as a hobby, now it’s more of an obligation. You have a contract, you have to improve and show some numbers.
What team do you have around you to develop your esports career?
I started playing alone and since I signed with DUX Gaming I’m supported by Carlos, who is the coach, and Javi, the analyst, the one who analyzes the games, when you lose, when you win, what you have done well or badly. And there’s also the psychologist, the personal trainer… During the pandemic, we did exercise in front of the camera, we did not even get out of doing exercise during the pandemic because in the end you spend many hours in front of the screen or on the PlayStation and you also have to be physically active.
Tell us about your work routine
Javi is the one I train with, but since I also have another job, I combine it very well, he gives me absolute freedom. I train three hours a day; it’s not the same as Jaime, who plays at a higher level, or King, who trains six to eight hours a day. I train three hours a day, from Wednesday to Sunday.
Do you think that in a sector like esports, which is growing very fast, but is still in the development phase, the practitioners are ahead of the managers of the industry itself?
There are a lot of people who share on Twitch, who make videos and live streams, and more and more are coming along and want to be professionals. They see you playing and they think you can make a living out of it. There are a lot more players than clubs, and very good players who don’t have the opportunity to be in a club. That’s the way it is.
What qualities does a player need to have to become a professional gamer?
It depends on the club, on what they are looking for. If you look at DUX, the players they have are very different. One is more technical, for example, Jaime is very mental. There was a time when LaLiga put a wristband on us to measure our heart rate and Jaime looked like he was literally dead, while his opponent’s heart rate was racing. They look for players of all types.
Women’s football is gaining more and more recognition and media attention, but the inequalities are still very evident between men and women at the professional level. How is the situation in esports?
In 2019, I was the first woman in Spain to sign a professional contract and the second in the world. That’s how far behind we are! There is still a huge way to go, we are going in a good direction, but there are still very few women today after I started. After these two years I do feel proud because I have opened doors, I have opened the way and I think there are four women in clubs and about twelve sharing. But men beat us by a landslide.
“In 2019, I was the first woman in Spain to sign a professional contract and the second in the world. That’s how far behind we are! We are going in a good direction, but men beat us by a landslide”
Online tournaments or live events? Which do you prefer?
Live, totally. I have experienced both, because during the pandemic we had to do virtual tournamentss. Before the pandemic I went to a live event in Madrid and it was magical. Being there with the people, meeting players from other clubs, meeting your rival face to face, the cameras… I choose the live events one hundred percent.
What is the best and the worst thing about being a professional esports player?
For me, the best thing is sharing with others, the good words they have for me, to keep learning, to be able to train, to be able to be in a club because there are many who can’t. The worst thing for me is having to play with that pressure of representing a club and what they might think if I lose.
How do you want to be an example for your fans?
When I do live streams, many people tell me, I take defeat very well, I am very honest when the opponent is better than me, I don’t make excuses. It’s true that the game is not perfect, but if you blame it all on the game, something is wrong. At the beginning I was very angry, but I have understood, also through Carlos and Javi, that by being calm in the end you can make a comeback in games and by getting angry you don’t manage to win, to make a comeback or anything, you just get more and more frustrated.
“I am already very proud to have paved the way for other women who have been able to dedicate themselves to gaming, who have signed up for other clubs. I’m already happy with that”
What are your aspirations?
I am already very proud to have paved the way for other women who have been able to dedicate themselves to gaming, who have signed up for other clubs and who write to me and tell me ‘you are an example and you have given me the strength to get in front of a camera, which I didn’t dare to do, and share it with others’. I’m happy with that and I’ll keep doing my live streams, I’ll keep competing and uploading my videos to YouTube.