CanPL.ca’s Marty Thompson speaks to eCPL Home To Play host ChuBoi about Friday’s Home To Play Finals.
A glance into a player’s living room is all ChuBoi (real name Chu Morah) and Mike LaBelle need in order to find a winner.
As EA Sports FIFA celebrity FIFA 20 gamers and hosts of the eCPL Home To Play tournament, they have seen a lot of themselves in the Canadian Premier League players vying for the Home To Play title, which will be officially awarded on Friday.
HFX Wanderers FC goalkeeper Christian Oxner, for one, has caught ChuBoi’s eye thanks to his impressive “gaming room.”
“He has the desk, the headphones, the energy drinks,” ChuBoi joked. “He’s good enough to go pro… Just to see he has that talent, it makes you wonder how he fits the time in as a professional footballer.”
Oxner has emerged as a formidable force in eCPL’s four-week tournament, qualifying for Friday’s finals alongside his teammate, FIFA pro Pedram Malakian (WeirdGuyFromWork). Taking convincing victories over Pacific FC’s Marco Bustos and Valour FC’s Dylan Carreiro last week, he ran into Atlético Ottawa and Malyk Hamilton in the final. Hamilton and FIFA pro Agit Katilmis (Fist _agitpower) won their second of three qualifying tournament titles, entering this week’s finals as the clear favourites.
LaBelle, meanwhile, earmarked Hamilton as a favourite back in Week 1 after, uh, seeing his gaming stance on camera.
“If the setup resembles what we have as FIFA geeks, I immediately think they are serious,” LaBelle quipped. “There’s this eSports stance – it’s not quite slouched, but you’re looking close to the screen. He has that and you can tell he’s focused.”
FIFA pros and players from Forge FC and FC Edmonton will also feature in the Friday’s “final four.” Tournament matchups consist of two-legged ties played between the clubs’ FIFA pros and CPL players, taking an aggregate score to crown a winner. Top seed Atlético Ottawa faces Forge FC in one semifinal, while the other semifinal features HFX Wanderers FC vs. FC Edmonton.
eCPL’s “final four” will feature some of Canada’s biggest EA Sports FIFA players – Ottawa’s Fist_Agitpower (41st), FC Edmonton’s Sibwolf (61st), and Forge FC’s GoalMachine (71st) are all ranked in the top 100 EA Sports FIFA players worldwide.
Canada’s brightest soccer gamers have dazzled with intriguing tactical choices and blistering decision-making, a stark contrast to CPLers who are, well, the best on their real-life soccer squad.
“It’s all about making the right decision at the right time. That’s what eSports is all about,” ChuBoi explained. “Instead of taking the obvious chance, maybe I pass it an extra three times. They’ll have an obvious shot and they just pass it right across to make the most-effective shot.”
Narratives are rife with CPL’s FIFA pros. Forge FC’s GoalMachine, a native of Etobicoke, Ont., is a “giant-killer” of sorts after taking down the world number one EA Sports FIFA player last year. FC Edmonton’s Sibwolf, meanwhile, is a quiet and modest player on the rise in Canada.
“Sibwolf has been really close to making it. He was around last year but this year people are starting to take notice,” ChuBoi said.
And then there’s Canada’s top-ranked player. Fist_agitpower is known for lulling fellow pros with precise possession play, making Atlético Ottawa a powerhouse.
Atlético Ottawa considered favourites
Malyk Hamilton clearly backed up his “gaming stance” to LaBelle after winning Week 1 and Week 3 titles. A technically gifted FIFA player with loads of in-game flair, LaBelle is quick to tip Hamilton’s Ottawa side for the championship.
“Malyk is definitely the best of the CPL players,” LaBelle said. “Malyk is very gifted with quick passing; intricate build-up play, counter-attack is smoother than everyone else. Good at the skill moves, too.
“I bet you Malyk would beat ChuBoi at FIFA.”
ChuBoi is quick to give credit to Hamilton – though no challenge to a game of FIFA was made – after he took down Oxner and the Wanderers in last week’s dead rubber final.
“As soon as I was able to see him multitask – talking to Mike and I and putting together some crazy attacks – I knew he was the real deal,” ChuBoi said.
FC Edmonton, Zetterberg primed for an upset
Halifax and Ottawa are favourites, but neither FIFA expert is taking FC Edmonton and Forge lightly. After all, the two sides met in the Week 2 final, with Forge taking a 5-3 win on aggregate. GoalMachine went 3-0 during that run – a rare feat in the nip-and-tuck pro game.
For the Eddies, Swedish midfielder Erik Zetterberg is considered an all-rounder at FIFA while Sibwolf remains a dark horse – in eCPL and FIFA pro circles.