EA Sports released the FIFA 20 player ratings yesterday and, unsurprisingly, those top 100 players walked out to all the usual, mega-budget PR fanfare and endless, endless cries of agony from the FIFA subreddit – namely about which player was rated too high (Mustafi?) and which too low (Kaka).
There’s one thing that always stands out above all the other ratings chatter, though: pace. Pace is how fast a player is, obviously, but it’s come to represent a couple of very specific things since Ultimate Team really came to prominence. First, of course, it is the actual number on the front of a player’s card, incorporating an average of their Acceleration and Sprint Speed stats into a single number. This tends to go up and down each year for most players and if it goes up or down too drastically, people don’t really like it.
The second thing pace refers to is the problem one: the actual concept itself. Pace, just as a concept overall, is embroiled in an endless back-and-forth in FIFA from one year to the next. One year pace is in, it’s meta, and in the simplest terms that means if you pack your team full of very fast, “sweaty” players you will have a better chance of beating a team with better-skilled, slower players. Or at least you will in theory: your fast players will be able to outrun slow players with or without the ball and, FIFA being FIFA (and not a real game of football, where teams can sit deeper and become more compact) that will grant you an undue advantage over the full 12 minutes.