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Columbus gamer wins 2020 eMLS Cup qualifier, advances to main bracket

Columbus Crew pro gamer Graham (Skamzz) Ellix survived four challengers Friday to win the 14-man Last Chance Qualifier Bracket and advance to main draw of the eMLS Cup.

Columbus Crew pro gamer Graham (Skamzz) Ellix survived four challengers Friday to win the 14-man Last Chance Qualifier Bracket and advance to main draw of the eMLS Cup.

Ellix dispatched Orlando City's Abe (FIFA Abe) Valbuena 1-0 in the final to fill out the 12th and last seed in Sunday's esports finale.

The Columbus representative will face Los Angeles FC gamer Martin (RemiMartinn) Oregel with the winner taking on Vancouver Whitecaps representative Alex (Exraa) Gonzalez in the quarterfinals.

"Let's Go," Ellix tweeted after finishing off the opposition Friday. 

The US$20,000 tournament features 25 pro FIFA 20 players, each representing an MLS team.

Montreal Impact gamer Mehdi (Mehdibob) Benghalem exited in the first round of the qualifying bracket, beaten 2-0 by New England's John (JKO) Oliveira.

"Very tough to go out like that after hours and hours of practicing," Benghalem tweeted after his loss.

"Looking forward to the future though and excited for FIFA 21 and we go again next year! Head held high," he added.

Ellix, a veteran gamer from Bristol, England, defeated Seattle's Nick (TheMarsBars11) Mars 3-1 on penalty kicks (after a 3-3 tie) before downing D.C. United's Mohamed (KingCJ0) Alioune Diop 2-1, Colorado's Brandan (Gonzo) Gonzales 3-0 on penalty kicks (after a 0-0 tie) and Valbuena.

Valbuena downed FC Dallas' Ihab (i9ibbs) Abualneel 3-1 on penalties (after a 0-0 tie), Houston's Guillermo (KidM3mito) Trevino 1-0 and Austin FC's Hector (Young H) Valenzuela 3-1 before running into Ellix.

The Orlando gamer made the semifinals of the eMLS Cup last year.

The top 11 competitors in total season points after the first two eMLS events of the year (League Series One and Two) qualified directly for the final stage of the tournament, with the top four earning a first-round bye.

The four are Vancouver's Gonzalez, FC Cincinnati's Gordon (Fiddle) Thornsberry, Atlanta United's Paulo Neto and New York City FC's Chris (Didychrilito) Holly.

Thornsberry is the No. 1 seed after winning both League Series events.

Toronto FC's Philip (PhilB94) Balke will face 2019 winner Cormac (Doolsta) Dooley of Nashville SC with the winner moving into the final eight against Neto, a Brazilian teenager who beat Balke in May en route to winning the eMLS Tournament Special along with Atlanta defender Franco Escobar.

The eMLS Cup had originally been scheduled for March 15 at SXSW in Austin, Texas, before it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Competitors will be playing in a modified version of FIFA 20's most popular game mode, FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT), which allows gamers to build a team comprised of the best players from across world soccer and even past legends of the game.

The eMLS competitors will also be required to have MLS representation in their team.

Atlanta's Josef Martinez scored the decisive goal in the 54th minute for Ellix in Friday's qualifying finals.

Toronto FC fans will enjoy the fact that both players in Friday's qualifying final started Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo although Ellix hauled him off in the second half as he went to a more defensive formation.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2020.


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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press