January 18, 2020
eMLS Cup: What if our Best athletes Played FIFA?

eMLS Cup: What if our Best athletes Played FIFA?

Yup. Oh wow. I hope that makes the cut. Blessed by the Godfather. Some of my best to the family
{laughter}. EA’s FIFA franchise the most popular sports video game on the planet. With over 150 million copies sold worldwide, the games has a profound cultural impact as well. With athletes from all sports, entertainers, and casual fans FIFA the video game for some is the only soccer people know. We’ve come here to Boston and PAX East for the first ever eMLS Cup and with 19 of the best FIFA players in North America that will get whittled down to 1 who has the opportunity to lift the first trophy and advance to the global stage
where they’ll compete as a part of the FIFA eWorld Cup. With the launch of the eMLS league, some, myself included, have raised an eyebrow at what athletes are in the combining of e and sports at all. To get a better sense of what eAthletes
are all about, I went to the home of New
England Revolution’s first signing John Olivera to see his prep for eMLS Cup. Hey what’s going on, man. How you doing? Good good. Welcome to the nerd kingdom, the nerd dungeon right here. Well let’s get to it, man. I don’t want to interrupt your
training here. I know it’s game day. Game Day it’s mostly about just
getting in that mindset of, alright, it’s time. I got to execute now. It took me like three weeks to
really settle down with the squad I have. You always want to see that you’re
doing something to put your opponent under
pressure. You like that one? I want to do him
on the wing right there. So now that you are a professional athlete, do you find that your girlfriend, is she cool with you spending more time playing? Is her family more supportive of
this? Last year, I went to Miami. I had the pleasure of going to
Vancouver and Los Angeles all because of FIFA, and you know, at first they were
like, you know why are you playing so
much? Why… why are you not going out as much on the weekends and stuff? And like, you know I’m playing FIFA, I’m
pretty good. Just, just wait and see. All right, Calen, call it out, where you want it? Ah man, I think lower left. Lower left? Yeah, across his body. Nice. This is your twitter right here. Yeah yeah. So I see Mike Labelle up there with his tweets. He says, “eMLS Cup=today, may the FIFA gods be with you.” Mike’s on to something there. The FIFA gods have to be with you. What’s happening my beautiful
people? My name is Mike and today we have the announcement, if you haven’t seen it on social
media yet, I’ve joined… Mike Labelle is a star. He’s a character. I’ve seen him all over the place
from YouTube, to Instagram, Twitter, everywhere. And he interacts a lot with current and former MLS players but also dips into the YouTube space. Growing his audience and having a huge following Actually talk? We’re doing Instagram right now. Dude, tag me. You know followers I’m going to get
now? I feel like you play the way I feel when I play or everyone does, but you let it out. Oh let’s go! Come on! If you’re at home, like, I look like what people at
home are doing. That aren’t on camera, but in front of a bunch of cameras. I didn’t think I’d be playing FIFA
at 28 years old. Then we had YouTube and everything kind of blew up with social media. I’m watching YouTube a little bit, and I was like I think there’s room
for a niche here. In terms of creating content that helps people get better
in the game, but in an entertaining way. That got me started and things
started taking off and when I graduated, I was like I like what’s going on with social media as opposed to
taking a salary. Now people aspire to be a content
creator. Where when I started creating
content, only a few years ago, I don’t think that was a goal for
many people. It was a hobby. So YouTube something that’s kind of
new for me and I’m excited about it. And now everybody that’s playing a
competitive level wants to showcase their ability. Because they are better than the
majority of the world it’s something it just so happens to
be FIFA or another video game. It’s turned into so much more, and it’s just… we’re right on the
brink of everything kind of becoming what it should be. Gaming is an industry that no matter
what happens it grows. Year over year it’s linear up. It doesn’t swing down. Jacob Wolf is a young reporter for ESPN that you can tell is really a part of this community and now stepping outside in the
media realm giving insight into the world that, I just know nothing about. This industry is going to be a
billion dollar industry by 2020. That’s the prediction. There’s 355 million people who watch
eSports in 2017 and like there’s lots of numbers behind it. But truly like it is growing
consistently. It’s the next wave of what’s going
to happen in traditional sports. And I think, I guess every sports league wants to
be involved at some level. Why though? Why is it the future of
sports? Because it’s young, and it’s only getting younger. You know, videogames are becoming
very intimate an important part of
culture. I think more influencers will get
involved, and I think generally like, as generations get older and those people become adults it
will be a big part of their lives. This is internet culture transformed into real life, right? These people, many of them come
together on the internet. I’ve met plenty of people on the
internet that I’ve gotten to connect with either
for the first time at this event or got to see again. And I’ve seen at previous events… People want to see soccer content in real life and they want to see
the gaming side of content. Sometimes there’s a mix between
both. And something I’ve noticed a lot with the FIFA world in recent
content is a lot more collabs with real life soccer players. One name that stands out to me in the YouTube gaming and soccer space, Jimmy Conrad. Yes. Played in the World Cup, but it’s now a full time YouTuber. And I’m not just saying this because
I’m on camera but I absolutely love Jimmy. I expect to see him here. I’m sure that he’s at PAX somewhere. He’ll be somewhere. Where you least expect it. Never afraid to chart his own path, he’s become a YouTuber, working with Hashtag United. These guys are filling up stadiums, Wembley in England, where people are taking the digital
world and FIFA and putting it into real life and getting a huge followings. For better or for worse, I’m the Ryan Seacrest for EA’s
global events, so I get to see this on a
global scale as well. Dude, I love that. Yeah yeah yeah yeah. I believe that it’s really important
that eMLS exists. It’s a gateway to a massive amounts of growth for the sport in this country. You get MLS attention that they wouldn’t get
otherwise from a community that’s quite large online, very passionate community. Ultimately though, I think the power of YouTube and social media is the
democratization of having a voice and having a
platform. Dude, this is a good turnout. Yeah, it’s solid right? Geeze. I did on tweet and Ohhh.. Just like I taught him. It does give you the opportunity to
do something you can do in real life. I think that’s a cool thing for a
lot of people. Part of what makes video games cool
in general is that you get to experience things
you can’t otherwise. Soccer ends for everybody at some point. I got to play in MLS
for eight years… that came to an end. Similarly through
injuries. Allen from FC Dallas, is a homegrown player and I mean that literally. He grew
up playing in the FC Dallas academy, but faced injuries and now he’s found his way into a
second career with FC Dallas. Now as their professional eSports athete. Ready? Oh, you want to do that you rock it. {clap} That’s how you know these guys are
content creators. And now we’re back about to play three more opponents and that’s it for conference play. I’m so excited. My history goes all the way back
when I used to play for the system, the FC Dallas youth system. The reason why I stopped
playing soccer was because I had three devastating knee injuries and three ACL injuries to be exact. It was a devastating moment in my
life but then I resorted into playing
FIFA, making YouTube videos, playing FIFA competitively and now I’m here and I really do enjoy and it’s something special being
able to represent FC Dallas. When I was in high school, unfortunately, like halfway through
the season I broke my ankle that sidelined me for the
rest of the season. Throughout that time, I really gone on to FIFA. I started playing alot. So like if they are unable to play actual soccer, they can resort to playing soccer virtually. And they could feel like
they’re part of the game. Makes you feel important and makes you feel wanted in the
club. I always pictured this, but in a slightly different way. So I really got what I wanted in a different and expected way. Shoot, I don’t want to see you on the sticks man. Maybe one day can work my way up. Yeah. I’m gonna start with the Revs
players. I’m gonna go Juan and Kelyn Rowe first. I heard Juan’s not that good, so start off with him and I think to be good. I won’t tell him he said, we’re coming for Juan. He earned a spot to represent our
team. I never played him. He’ll probably beat me, though. I mean, I used to play more than I play now. I still hold my own. He’s got to fix his braids though. The braids were a little loose. Kelyn looks like Kelyn because it’s
easy to look like Kelyn. Very plain. You just have a very good looking
white guy out there, you know? You do see players across MLS locker rooms playing the game. Preseason especially, these guys are
playing FIFA nonstop. I know because I’m next
door and I’m hearing and I’m like I’ve
got to go join this. You got guys in one room playing for
hours straight in between training. It’s definitely gotten excessive. And heated. A lot of people play, yeah. Rooms that are like, loud. Security. You know what happens because you
just hear banging on the walls you hear guys jumping up and down here a few words that I
cannot repeat on camera. Drake was streaming playing fortnight and then I shot show Atlanta with Donald Glover. They had Atlanta United, they’re playing videogames in the
background. Like there’s so many players that
don’t even play soccer is like playing FIFA. Jaylen Brown who plays for the
Celtics. He loves FIFA. Julian Edelman plays all the time. Yeah. I’m walked around and like have
multiple other people in the street, like, “you play for
the Revs, I scored with you on FIFA. Like “Oh hey, I’m going to try and score real
life, but like thank you for, keeping scoring with me in FIFA, get my numbers up. I appreciate
that.”. Even my friends they always ask me
about all these players, they would never know
anything about if it wasn’t for FIFA. But they know all their
stats. That’s true man, I went and coached kids when I was in Houston and I remember them being like, “Oh that’s cool, you play for the
Dynamo.” But like, they were never really that
interested. And then there was invariably one
moment where they’d be like, “Wait are you in FIFA?” You must be pretty good. And be like, “I just told you I play in the MLS.” “I was a pro player! I played professionally!” But it didn’t matter as much as FIFA to them. So many ten year olds will play FIFA and see the eMLS, and now want to be a Major League
Soccer player, or go to games and be like, yes this is for me, and maybe be more invested into the
sport. So you can win them over in a
variety of different ways. And one of them
could be eMLS players that you like. Plain and simple. You understand this community better
than most. What are some of those values that
are important to keep in mind as you enter into the gaming world, in general? I think you approach it as a human
being. And I think that you approach it in a way like, I respect what
you’re doing. These guys have been thought of as second rate. Oh well you’re just playing a video game. These guys are dedicated. They put so much time into their
craft. And I believe they deserve to be
treated with the respect that any other
athlete is out there doing the same thing, or anybody in any walk of life. Dr. TL Taylor is one of the leading
thinkers and researchers in the eSports
space. She’s devoted her life to this, studying eSports from a sociological perspective. In my previous project on
multiplayer games, I had encountered a kind of player
that we used to call a power gamer, and they were people who were super focused. Would often play even when it was painful, borning, failure. And for me I was like, that is not how I play games. Who are these people? I think most of us, maybe we try a few times and then we go, “OK I’m done”. {laughter} Because I do think they tell us
something about how play can often be really hard work, and it can be pleasurable even when they’re suffering {laughter}, which I think actually
athletes get. eSports players are passionate competitors. That disposition, that’s very kindred to what you find in sports. So I think that can be a uniting factor. I think eSports athletes will often
play a lot of games in one session. Traveling globally. You’re coming off a jet lag and your plane. So it’s I mean it’s not unusual to
see top competitors just come off the stage and be, just wiped out. Absolutely. It’s got to be a big weight off to
advance. How are you feeling so far? I’m feeling really tired. I t ‘s been a tough game against a tough opponent. People love to share their fandom with others. And sports has long known that. And games have long known that. And I think for me, one of the interesting open
questions is if, if you can kind of get those two
cultures to be tapping into that at the same
time. OK. All right. We’re getting going. Bring them through. OK. Here we go. What’s up everybody? I’m Stephen Keel. Former MLS player and host of Ultimate Keel. This event is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. {Commentary} Kid Memito trying to do
everything not to have that happened. Ronaldo finishes it! There
it is. Kid Memito two goals in front again. Probably not enough for to score two
goals against Kid Memito. That’s it. Your eMLS Cup Champion,
Kid Memito. Kid Memito goes down in history next to Ching, De Rosario, Holden, Barrett, Onstad, Robinson. He’s got it. He’s got to go down there with Agoos and Pope as the first, he won the first eMLS. I got to be honest man, before I came here I was a little bit skeptical. eAthlete that term kinda was a little off putting to me. You come here you see these
guys actually working you see the skill. You see the understanding in the
game. And more than anything, the love for it. The same way that, you know, you and I have a passion
for it. I think it’s pretty similar to, you know, you and I when we were
playing growing up. We played soccer just
for the fun of it. And then you start to realize you have a real talent and potential to turn into a
profession. And I think through eMLS and MLS starting this league, it’s given a lot of these guys a
platform to take their talents, you know, to a professional level. Which is cool. So my thing to them would just be like go for
it. After meeting players, professors, and people I thought existed
generally outside my traditional soccer orbit. eSports and MLS actually make a lot of
sense. From the team kits, face paint, and cosplay that you see on the floor of the
convention center at PAX East, its’ not that different than a lot
of the characters you’ll find in MLS stadiums across North America. eSports and MLS have a unique set of rituals, a sense of self, and frankly, a self-awareness that kind of
doesn’t really care what other people think. For all you skeptics that have yet
to realize that the nerds are now the
mainstream, and anyone outside is just missing the point. eMLS and surely eSports isn’t going anywhere but up. And if you’re like me, and you finally give it a chance, you might find it a little more
familiar than you’d expect and a lot more fun.

22 thoughts on “eMLS Cup: What if our Best athletes Played FIFA?

  1. Love how gaming culture is becoming like sports culture. Of course I will represent my home team, Houston, in any sport as much as I can.

  2. Don't call them athletes (like seriously dude 70% of them are not in shape) , just professional gamers…

  3. I love playing FIFA and I love soccer/football, but the fact that you keep calling these guys athletes is making me violent.

  4. athletes? no thanks; not into the matrix !
    whatever you play, do it in the real world ! No virtual ball will ever be the same as the real weight and unpredictability of the elements

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