She’s a master soccer player and an expert esports competitor: Meet Lena Güldenpfenni of RB Leipzig.

In the Bundesliga, there is a young German forward who scores hundreds of goals every week.

There is a small disclaimer before Bayern Munich begins preparing paperwork for a bid: many of these goals are scored in the FIFA video game series’ virtual arena.

Lena Güldenpfennig, 20, is a striker for RB Leipzig during the day and a professional player for the club’s esports team RBLZ Gaming at night. Despite this caveat, her daily balancing act is still impressive.

The fact that Güldenpfennig spends the first six hours of the day in school as part of her training to become a kindergarten teacher makes this multitasking marvel even more remarkable.

Güldenpfennig explains, “This is just my daily routine.”

I take it every day, and I really like it. Because I enjoy doing everything, it works. You will enjoy doing it without stress if it is enjoyable.

Güldenpfennig excelled on the virtual pitch during her time at a boarding school, having joined the football academy of RB Leipzig as a youngster.

Similar to the case for some, her energy for gaming was manufactured by the craving to beat her companions – maybe it was inescapable that, given her other life as a star footballer, she was bound to take her intensity to the most elevated level.

READ: When European football came to a standstill early last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, many footballers put up their feet and picked up their controllers to scratch their competitive itch. However, Güldenpfennig had loftier goals for the inaugural ePremier League.

She entered an online tournament hosted by the German Football Association (DFB) after having “a little” more time to play the game, which was FIFA 21 from the previous year.

She won in the end, and her performance was well-received. She was contacted by RBLZ Gaming the following day, and they offered her the chance to join their team.


She has already made history a year later. She became the first woman to compete in the Virtual Bundesliga (VBL) in March. The VBL is a competition between esports teams that represent 26 real-life clubs from Germany’s top two divisions.

Güldenpfenning scored her first two goals in her VBL career, including a nifty volley, in two doubles matches against TSG Hoffenheim and FC Nürnberg in the South-East division of the club championship.

A goal scored by a woman in professional FIFA esports remains a collectible in a male-dominated industry, and the goal itself was both impressive and moving.

Regarding gender diversity, the VBL’s current squad rosters paint a pretty gloomy picture. Of the 107 recorded players across every one of the 26 crews, only two ladies include – Lena and Anna Klink of Bayer Leverkusen.

All 32 finalists at the 2019 FIFA eWorld Cup, which was held at the O2 Arena in London and offered a prize pool of $500,000, were male. Güldenpfennig is not discouraged, though.

Güldenpfennig stated, “I want to encourage women that more women have the courage to simply show, ‘Here, I can do this too.'”

I would simply advise them not to run away, and they should certainly not be afraid of the men and boys.

“I need to keep on appearing here, I have been the main lady – you can do this as well.”

Sexist abuse, whether in game chat or on social media, has frequently made online gaming a toxic environment for women in addition to a lack of representation.

Güldenpfennig acknowledged, “There is the occasional message, which appears in my Instagram inbox.”

“But I didn’t take these to heart, and neither should any woman in esports.”

“Football is more stressful”

Güldenpfennig is firing on all cylinders with the start of her actual football season and the release of FIFA 22 last month, the most recent installment in the series. She has less than a month to get used to the new game before the 10th of November, when the 2021-22 VBL season begins.

Güldenpfennig, on the other hand, finds the video game version of football to be more mentally taxing than the real thing, despite the fact that many football players use the virtual version to wind down.

Güldenpfennig stated, “In fact, FIFA is more stressful,” which will resonate with those who annually sacrifice broken controllers to the infamous frustrations of competitive video games.

“You don’t think about it, yet you must be truly present each second. If you switch off once, you could make big mistakes.

I always find it annoying to lose games or concede goals. There, I still temporarily disconnect. Goal cheering or wasting time is another annoying thing. You shouldn’t do that, and you don’t have to.

Fortunately, Güldenpfennig has the unique advantage of being able to draw on a lifetime’s worth of professional football knowledge, which puts her in a position that allows her to maneuver around such annoyances.

“There’s a ton you can move into genuine football,” Güldenpfennig said.

“With regards to strategies, concerning squeezing circumstances – you can move the outline from FIFA into genuine football and the reverse way around as well, so both are reflected in one another a tad.”

The game includes it

In FIFA’s flagship mode, Ultimate Team, players work to construct and compete with their own dream team of current and former footballers. In-game footballers are referred to as “cards” due to their trading card-like design. They can be purchased and sold on an open market.

Pro football players are known to pay close attention to their avatars in video games. This connection was beautifully encapsulated in a tweet that Roma striker Tammy Abraham sent when she was nine years old and has since resurfaced: “while your [sic] at home playing [FIFA] 12 I’m working hard to be featuring in FIFA 16.”

Güldenpfennig is the same, however considering that main a set number of genuine ladies’ players from a select arrangement of public groups are in FIFA 22, she anticipates the opportunity to really bring her twofold life round trip.

She grins and says, “I think that’s a little dream that each FIFA player has. It would be cool if I had my own card.” I have no idea if other people would play me then!

Her self-depreciation would probably be misplaced based on Güldenpfennig’s response to the question about her own statistics.

Güldenpfennig’s description of her potential avatar places her in a similar bracket to the fastest player in this year’s FIFA, Kylian Mbappé, who is currently the most expensive player on Ultimate Team.

She stated, “I would give myself the highest [score] in shooting and in the techniques – so in passing and dribbling.”

“I shoot the goals and prepare them; defense is not really my thing. So the most terrible would truly be physical and guarding. But the rest, like the speed and the shooting, would be fine.”

In any case, whether its on the pitch or on the screen, most would agree Güldenpfennig will in any case be succeeding.



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