There won’t be any professional Major League Soccer players kicking the ball on a soccer field this weekend. Instead there will be professional gamers virtually controlling the players.
League Series Two is the second event of the 2019 eMLS season that features 22 eMLS players, which will include FC Dallas’ homegrown eMLS player Alan Avila, who will host the event.
“I’m very excited because I get to bring the gaming culture, the FIFA culture and esports in general, here to Dallas,” Avila says. “It’s going to be a brand-new environment for some people who don’t really understand the entire concept of eMLS. I’m pretty sure after this, they are going to understand it.”
Last month, League Series One, the first event of the eMLS season, was held in Los Angeles. The league announced in November that League Series Two would be at the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
“We thought the background of the event like the National Soccer Hall of Fame was something really unique and an awesome way to create a background that is rooted in soccer, while doing a gaming event,” says James Ruth, senior director of properties and events at Major League Soccer.
Not only will fans get the chance to watch the best eMLS players for free, they will receive free food and beverages and can browse exclusive FC Dallas eMLS merchandise, design their own FC Dallas eMLS apparel and create personal FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) cards.
“We're all about growing esports,” Ruth says. “And we thought it made a lot of sense [to make the event free].”
Avila, better known as “AlanAvi,” was eliminated in the Western Conference quarterfinals during last month’s League Series One playoffs. Avila says he has learned from his mistakes and is ready to compete for the title.
“There’s a lot to learn from that match,” Avila says. “I feel like I need to be more precise in my attack, because if I’m not scoring then I’m definitely not going to win. And besides the attack, I also need to put some more pressure on [the opponent] and play better defense. At the end of the day, I feel like if you have a good defensive game, a lot can go your way even if your attack isn’t there.”
Players will be placed in their Eastern and Western Conference group stage. The top four players in each conference will advance to the single-elimination title round.
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Points earned during the tournament will have a larger bearing on players' positioning for the eMLS Cup. The five players with the most accumulated points from League Series One and Two, as well as the eMLS Cup regular season, will be seeded into the eMLS Cup finals bracket, while the final seed will be reserved for the winner of a last-chance bracket featuring remaining players. Avila knows there are no easy games.
“It’s very important to win every match,” Avila says. “I was very upset that I lost in the quarterfinals, but I still have hope. I’m still in second place in the Western Conference. That’s what matters. Of course, I want to win trophies but at the end of day, all the conference seeding for the eMLS Cup is on the line.”
For fans who can't make it to the event, League Series Two will be live-streamed on MLSsoccer.com, Twitch and Twitter. Avila says he hopes to bring the home crowd in.
“It’s going to be a great time, 100 percent absolutely guaranteed,” Avila says. “It’s going to be an amazing atmosphere from music to food to drinks. Just the energy in Los Angeles was very amazing. I can tell you a lot of people really did enjoy their time in League Series One.”