Alan Avila, better known as “AlanAvi,” went from kicking a soccer ball to virtually moving a soccer player with a video game remote. FC Dallas, the city's Major League Soccer club, signed Avila as its first eMLS professional player and finished fourth in the first eMLS Cup at PAX East Boston.
Avila was a former real-soccer midfielder for the FC Dallas Youth Academy from 2010 to 2014. After his academy days, he went to the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in 2015.
Then, his freshman year was shattered. He tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, his third ACL injury of his promising career, and he knew he had to quit playing competitive soccer.
Avila took it hard.
“I felt really low. I felt depressed,” Avila says. “I couldn’t do what I wanted to [play soccer]. It was just a bad feeling.”
Playing electronic soccer was the only way to clear his mind from the injury, which gave him more time to play. He created a YouTube channel in 2015 and started to gain some popularity for his FIFA soccer videos.
In 2016, he realized he was better than an average player and was able to prove his dominance in the video game. “I saw that I had potential to become a professional FIFA player,” Avila says.
Avila consistently ranked in the top 100 best players in the world. At one point, he ranked second in the North and South America region and was once ranked 20th in the world. He won the Xbox Manchester City Cup in 2017 and went 40-0 in FUT Champions in January.
Avila, a Midland native, was one of 19 players competing in the eMLS Cup in Boston earlier this month, going head-to-head playing EA Sports FIFA 18.
“It was a good experience competing and representing our MLS club,” Avila says. “It was an awesome experience playing for FC Dallas.”
Of the 19 players, only two conference finalists earned an automatic berth to EA Sports FIFA 18 Global Series Playoff and have the opportunity to become the FIFA 18 World Champion at the FIFA eWorld Cup 18.
Avila played 18 preliminary games, finishing third with a 12-5-1 record and advanced to the playoff knockout stage. He outplayed Minnesota United's Elias Baca in the Western Conference quarterfinals and came from behind against Sporting Kansas City's Alex Betancourt in the sem-finals.
Avila was one win away from reaching his goal of earning an automatic berth to EA Sports FIFA 18 Global Series Playoff but lost to Houston Dynamo’s Guillermo “Memo” Treviño, 4-3, in the Western Conference Finals. Treviño went on to win the eMLS Cup.
“I felt ready, but the game didn’t go my way,” Avila says.
Avila was placed in the third-placed match against New York City FC's Christopher Holly, but his mind was not in the game. He lost.
“I was still thinking, dwelling on the Western Conference finals, how I fell short by a little bit,” Avila says. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to win the third-place match.”
Avila may have lost but was satisfied with his fourth-place tournament finish.
“I feel very proud, out of the 19 players, I was in the top four," Avila says. "I feel proud achieving that because there were a lot of good players competing in this tournament."
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With his history with FC Dallas, with his record and reputation, there was no doubt in mind that FC Dallas found and signed the right player.
“Alan is the perfect athlete to serve as FC Dallas’ first esports player,” FC Dallas President Dan Hunt says in a news release. “He knows the game, he’s a homegrown and we’re excited about working with Alan to help build eMLS as the best league in North America for gamers.
Avila, who is now a junior at UTPB, plans to participate in more tournaments and start building the FC Dallas eMLS brand.
“People might just see it as a video game, but no, there’s a lot of skills that go into it,” Avila says.