Former Eagles running back and Super Bowl 52 champion, Jay Ajayi, struggled mightily in his first official eMLS event ending with a 0-13 record and a -67 goal differential.
The Philadelphia Union marked the announcement of Jay Ajayi as their newest eMLS gamer Tuesday afternoon and with declared the moment a “historical” one. Ajayi became one of the first former pro athletes and very first former NFL player to transition into the eSports realm.
But unfortunately for Ajayi, he clearly did not have the skills needed to compete.
After a ton of hype from not only the Union but fans alike, Ajayi failed to win one match. He was generously granted a spot in the quarterfinals of the eMLS Series One tournament simply because the event was hosted in the Philadelphia market (at Union Transfer). eMLS rules stipulate that the home city gamer automatically receives a quarterfinal appearance regardless of how well, or in Ajayi’s case, how badly they perform in the 12 matches leading up to the quarterfinals.
Initial quotes from the Union’s Chief Marketing Officer Doug Vosik regarding the announcement of Ajayi as the club’s newest eMLS gamer would lead one to believe Ajayi would’ve been able to at least hold his on during this competition. But the opposite is true.
“Jay has the fight, grit and winning mentality that Philadelphia is known for, and it quickly became clear to us that his love of the city, soccer, and gaming made him a great fit for our esports team” said Vosik in an official press release from the club Tuesday.
But no matter how much grit Ajayi may have while on the sticks, he was sorely outmatched both Thursday and Friday nights at Union Transfer.
The news of Ajayi signing on as an eMLS gamer spread like wildfire. Headlines across multiple national outlets picked up the news and ran with it. And as the old adage goes ‘any publicity is good publicity.’
The Union franchise and their fans alike were jumping with joy since the club made such a splash in terms of brand exposure. Ajayi and the Union were plastered across every social media platform Tuesday and the conversations surrounding Ajayi’s announcement were overwhelmingly positive. Fans fell in love with the idea simply because it granted, in a certain sense, free publicity for an up and coming club.
However, Ajayi’s 0-13 record and embarrassing -67 goal differential may have soured that hype just a bit. And maybe not.
Ajayi would face the number one ranked FIFA player didychrislito, NYCFC’s gamer, in the quarterfinal match but would eventually fall victim to a 6-0 loss.
The Union’s first eMLS gamer was Cormac Dooley, otherwise known as Doolsta. He won back-to-back championships for Philadelphia before agreeing to become Nashville SC’s gamer this year. Doolsta provided the Union franchise with great success in their first ventures into the eMLS realm. He also is a pro gamer for US Soccer.
Considering the past success they had, a gamble on a prominent name like Ajayi became a feasible one.
Yet one can’t help but wonder how other eMLS gamers may have felt when they realized Ajayi was nowhere near their level of talent when it comes to pro gaming. That one quarterfinal spot automatically awarded to Ajayi could’ve been granted to a more deserving gamer.
Whether or not Ajayi continues to represent the Union in future eMLS events is uncertain. But for now, the Union will be happy that they were able to make a huge splash in a marketing sense despite his failures to win.
What is eMLS?
eMLS is the esports and gaming property of Major League Soccer. Built around the EA SPORTS™ FIFA franchise, its goal is to utilize gaming to reach global audiences, raise the profile of MLS, and grow its next generation of fans. In 2019, the 2018 eMLS Cup presented by PlayStation® won Ex Awards Gold Winner for ‘Best Esports Activation,’ Cynopsis Sports Media Awards Honorable Mention for ‘Best Esports Event’ and Best Live Stream.
eMLS League Series One presented by PlayStation will feature 25 of the best professional FIFA 20 gamers in the world. Each eMLS player, representing their MLS Club, is vying for a shot at the Series One trophy and $7,500 in cash. eMLS is an Official League Partner of the EA SPORTS FIFA 20 Global Series.
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Graduate of Pennsylvania State University ’16. Interests include sports and history. Follow on twitter for Philly sports news – @MMcClain_PSN
Philadelphia Union writer.