Vancouver Whitecaps double up on their esports talent for 2021 gaming season

·2 min read

VANCOUVER — The Whitecaps are doubling up on their esports talent in 2021 with Alex (Exraa) Gonzalez and Erfan (Skill Shack) Hosseini both representing the Vancouver MLS team.

The 19-year-old Gonzalez, whose gaming handle is pronounced “X-rah," will look after the Xbox side while the 20-year-old Hosseini handles PlayStation.

Hosseini was the Whitecaps' first eMLS athlete in 2018 and 2019 before giving way to Gonzalez. The native of Burnaby, B.C., got his job back in November after defeating Gonzalez in the final of the ONe tournament presented by Alpha Esports, the Whitecaps' official gaming partner.

Regina's Gonzalez finished fourth in the 2020 eMLS overall standings.

Both players will be representing the club individually and as a team in global competitions. They makes their team debut Thursday against Mexico’s Paradero Gaming in online qualifying for the 2021 FIFAe Club World Cup.

Each team in FIFAe Club World Cup competition is represented by one PlayStation player and one Xbox player.

The MLS's 2021 esport league kicks off next month with 27 teams, thanks to the introduction of Inter Miami CF and St. Louis City SC. The season will be contested online with a US$70,000 prize pool.

The opening event, League Series One, is scheduled for Jan. 16-17, followed by League Series Two on Feb. 13-14 and the eMLS Last Chance qualifier on March 16-17. The 12-team eMLS Cup is slated for March 20-21.

The New York Red Bulls' George Adamou is reigning eMLS Cup champion.

Toronto FC is represented by Phil (PhilB94) Balke while Mehdi (Mehdibob) Benghalem wears Montreal Impact esports colours.

The eMLS, an official league partner of the EA Sports Global Series, will send its top three finishers to the PS4 Global Series North America Regional Playoffs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16. 2020

The Canadian Press