It’s time to get excited: Hashtag United are coming to the Gfinity Elite Series for Season 3. The squad of YouTubers-turned-footballers are looking to make an immediate impact, particularly in the new FIFA 18 league – but how much do you know about them? Here's how Hashtag United’s next step into esports is just the latest chapter in a compelling story.
First formed in 2016, Hashtag United is the brainchild of Spencer Owen – or as you'll likely know him as, Spencer FC. Having built up a following of over 1.9m subscribers on his YouTube channel, he decided to blend the worlds of real-world football and FIFA Let's Play videos together to create Hashtag United, a squad of real amateur footballers and friends, competing in a FIFA Ultimate Team-style matches.
The games are filmed by a four-camera crew and uploaded to YouTube, where the team have accrued over 300,000 subscribers on their dedicated channel and over 100,000 followers apiece on their Twitter and Instagram accounts. The idea of 'IRL FIFA' has proven to be wildly popular, and they’ve moved from strength to strength.
Very nice, you might be thinking. So what does any of this have to do with esports, and more importantly the Gfinity Elite Series? Simple – alongside IRL footballers, Hashtag United also has a white-hot FIFA esports roster.
First formed via the Spencer FC Game Academy initiative, over 10,000 FIFA players were whittled down to a field of 10, and eventually Harry Hesketh rose through the ranks to claim overall victory and sign a professional esports contract as the first Hashtag United player. Harry’s fellow finalist Kez Brown soon signed with Manchester City's official esports team, in case you needed a demonstration of the level of talent in the Game Academy series.
'Hashtag Harry' Hesketh is still with the team today, and these days is bolstered by a formidable lineup featuring rising star Ryan Pessoa, former Paris Saint-Germain player Agge Rossenmeier, and BorasLegend - a man viewed by many as one of the greatest FIFA players of all time. With an incredible 12 tournament victories on his resume, including multiple Swedish Championships and the 2013 Las Vegas World Challenge Series, the stats certainly back up his reputation. Eagle-eyed Gfinity fans may remember him from the 2016 Play Like A Legend World Grand Finals, where he finished in the top 10 – competing against players from fellow Elite Series teams Vitality, Epsilon and exceL.
With such promise in their ranks, they'll be aiming to hit the ground running in the new FIFA league for Elite Series 3. They will have to assemble new SFV and Rocket League rosters from scratch, but with a proven eye for growing talent, they’ll be on the lookout for the best Challenger Series players to bolster their ranks. With such strength in their FIFA roster, Hashtag United's established team could start as early favourites for the title – especially if they can take advantage of other teams starting slowly as their lineups take time to gel. It will be something of a surprise if we don't see Hashtag United in the FIFA playoffs and in contention at the sharp end of Season 3.
Dismiss them at your peril; Hashtag United mean business.