Jeffrey, or JisForJeff as you’re known in the gaming community, welcome to Philadelphia Union’s gaming team. What did you think of the Union Esports College Clash and how did you come across it?
When I first arrived at the venue, I thought it was very professionally organized. I've been to a lot of tournaments hosted by a lot of organizations and this one was hosted by N3rd St Gamers and it had great monitors, the format of the tournament was amazing.
I found out about it through Twitter and knew immediately it was a great opportunity for me and I had to participate.
How did you pull off this win? What do you think was the big key to your victory?
My key on that day was just staying composed and keeping a positive mindset. I used to get very, very angry when playing FIFA, and now I'm more composed and I've got that tip from a lot of pro players -- some who are part of eMLS -- and they taught me how to stay composed and keep my head and keep cool. And that's what I did. I tried to keep cool after numerous unfortunate results that happened during that game. That was my tip: Keep cool, stay composed.
Was there a big moment when you remember you had to put that tip into practice?
Yes! In the final game versus Taha FC I hit the post around 10 times and I just couldn't believe the game was treating me this way. I had to stay cool because if I would've lost my mind, I would've slipped up in a moment when he possibly could have scored.
You live in New York, so how did you get in to this tournament? What address did you register under?
When I registered, I had to use a fake address because I was over 75 miles away from Philly. But I really wanted to be part of this tournament and be part of the Union eMLS team. So I put down somewhere in South Philly close to the other stadiums, I can't remember the exact address, but I did it because I was striving for eMLS.
I always wanted to represent someone from MLS. So I knew this tournament was a great opportunity but I know the requirements excluded me. So I decided to just see what happened. And I was confident I'd get far in that tournament.
I actually registered for the tournament and then a few days before the tournament I contacted the owner of FreshFox [ed. Note: Jeff was under contract to game for FreshFox] and told him, 'Look -- whatever I gotta do, I gotta do. Whatever is necessary to end our contract, let's do it.'
Our contract was ending at the end of January and I couldn't wait that long; I needed it ended later that day! He reached out to me that night and he told me the fee to end the contract and that's the only option. I ended up buying out my contract from that organization. I took that risk -- it was actually a very expensive buyout for me -- and I just took the risk two days before the tournament because I always wanted to be a part of eMLS.
So tell me: Why Philly?
This is insane but... I'm a Philadelphia Flyers fan! And I know how dedicated fans are to their teams. I know that fans are with their teams through thick and thin, ups and downs. And that's what teams need, fans that are supportive no matter what. And that's why I wanted to be with Philly.
Will you be coming down to Philly for Union games?
Yes, 100%! That's my goal! I love soccer, and to be able to go to soccer games and see guys like Andre Blake, one of the best goalkeepers in MLS, yes. I have a couple of Jamaican friends and I remember in the Gold Cup when he was playing so well and then he went out and was crying, just in tears, and I felt myself in that because I had a bad injury in college and I started crying because I had that passion and wanted to be out there. That's why I love Blake, his passion.
So you were injured playing soccer?
I suffered a groin injury in high school, actually. But I kept playing and I went on to play college soccer as well at Concordia College of New York and I went off once with a hamstring injury and I can still run, but when I try to kick the ball at the wrong distance, it triggers it. So my junior year, I stopped playing and I rededicated myself to school and FIFA.
Do you get the same competitive thrill playing FIFA that you got playing soccer on the field?
Yes! And my father is a big reason for that. As long as I've played soccer in general, my father has been there with me, cheering me on and telling me I can do it. He always told me that you have to eat good before you play, whether it's soccer or FIFA. He tells me the same things for soccer and FIFA, and I always get the same feelings playing both. For example, the day before this tournament, my dad told me, 'Eat good, sleep well, and wake up happy and confident. And I've always received that advice since I was young. My dad has played a big, big role in my achievements in soccer and FIFA.
When I played soccer in high school I was a Central Attacking Midfielder, and then when I played in college I was a winger and a fullback.
What was your dad's connection to soccer?
It's weird -- my dad was never a soccer player. He was always a basketball player; he loves basketball. So I don't know how I got so into soccer! At the age of three, though, I was playing in a club and ever since then I've always been playing with older kids and that helped give me the push, along with my dad motivating me. I'm Mexican and soccer plays a big role in Mexico, so I just love the sport. When the US plays, when Mexico plays, when a good game is on, I just love watching soccer.
So you grew up playing soccer, but how and when did you get into playing FIFA competitively?
I got into FIFA in 2002, I think it was the World Cup game. Then I stopped playing in 2004 and switched to first person shooter games. then I got bored and I went back to FIFA in early 2017. And when I first came back I was really, really bad at FIFA Then when I went to FIFA 18, I started getting some top 100 finishes. I finished with around 5-6 top 100 finishes.
When FIFA 19 came out this year, I hit top 100 right off the bat -- my first week! I hit 29 wins out of 30. The first week I got into the qualifiers for the FIFA 19 World Series. And then after that I stayed top 100 for four straight weekends. Ever since FIFA 18, I've pushed myself. And when I heard about eMLS, that pushed me even more to compete in a higher game because I've always wanted to be part of eMLS.
How many hours would you spend playing FIFA, and do you play any other video games competitively?
I play around 5-7 hours if not more a day. Every single day. I'm always on FIFA. On my phone I have an app called FIFA 19 companion app so I can look at the market and my team. So I'm always thinking about FIFA. I'm on Twitter and I'm friends with a lot of eMLS players. We all connect with each other and talk about FIFA.
The community is great, especially within eMLS. We're all pretty close and talk about FIFA and life, you know? I feel like that eMLS community is very close and friendly.
What makes the way you play FIFA unique from some of the other top players?
What makes me unique in gameplay is composure and dedication. Most pros in eMLS are content creators and I'm more on the side of being competitive. And some content creators don't know how to keep their cool, and they rage a lot.
If you don't know what raging is, it's when you lose your head! And I try to stay away from losing my head, and that's what makes me unique. That's a major, major key when playing FIFA.
Do you have any tips for casual gamers or people just getting started in FIFA?
You can't jump from being the worst to being the best the next day. It takes time. For me, it took three years to get to top 100. For anything in life, it takes time and dedication. When you're born, you don't go from coming out of the womb to walking, you know?
You crawl, you walk, then you run. Take your time and dedicate yourself. If you really want to be in the competitive scene and be where you want to be, you gotta focus and dedicate yourself to the game.
What's next on your radar as an official gamer?
My main goal is to qualify for an event in the FIFA 19 Global Series. Doolsta's at one right now in Romania. That's my goal, to go to the next level. That's what I'm working on now, and that's why I dedicate hours and hours to FIFA. That's my goal, and as a competitive gamer that's what I should be striving for.
Alright, last question: You’re all Union in MLS, but what other teams do you support worldwide?
In the EPL, I support Arsenal. In La Liga, I support Real Madrid. And in MLS, I don't have a favorite. I've never picked a favorite. But it's all about Philly now!
Great to hear! Welcome to the gaming team!