While most of the east coast was settled into bed, Philadelphia Union esports gamer Doolsta was on the other side of the country, and he was making history. Around 1 a.m. ET, Doolsta completed his remarkable journey to claim the championship at the eMLS League Series One, presented by PlayStation.
"I can't believe it, and I'm shaking" Doolsta — real name Cormac Dooley — said excitedly after capturing the title. "[Kid Memito, Houston Dynamo’s gamer] was a really tough opponent. When he was attacking I had to focus defensively and luckily my passes in and around the box were spot on and that really helped me a lot and got me the win."
Amazing feeling winning the @emls league series one and securing my first ever title🏆— Cormac Dooley (@doolsta) January 23, 2019
That was the best FIFA I have ever played and still have no idea how I done it.
Shoutout to all those who made the event great and everyone I played.
We go again next month in Dallas✌️ pic.twitter.com/Oh56MZL5Jk
After competing all day and earning a spot in the knockout round with an 8-3 record, Dooley embodied Union resilience to claim his first eMLS title. He had to wait nearly two hours for his Eastern Conference semifinal match, but then avenged an early loss to Toronto FC. In the first of two dramatic matches, the Union gamer overcame a first-half mistake to knot the score at 1-1 with a 64th minute goal. Four minutes later, a free kick goal knocked Doolsta back. But he dug in, focused, and leaned on his growing skillset to find an equalizer. It came via corner kick, as the ball was flicked across to Real Madrid center back Raphael Varane for the crucial goal. With momentum on his side, yet another corner kick goal sealed Doolsta’s place in the Eastern Conference final.
At this point, and with growing confidence, Doolsta unleashed his high-powered offense on FC Cincinnati. The first goal arrived in the eighth minute but an equalizer followed four minutes later. The 18-year-old Union gamer bounced back with three consecutive goals to end the half with a 4-1 advantage. Doolsta iced the match with a pair of second half goals to claim the Eastern Conference title by a 6-2 scoreline.
"Everything just seemed to click," he said following the conference championship. "My passing, the one-touch passes just seemed to go where I wanted."
In the final, Doolsta faced off against defending eMLS Cup Champion Kid M3mito of Houston Dynamo. Despite facing an opponent that had never (!) lost in eMLS competition (a perfect 33-0 entering the match), Doolsta took Union principles to heart and relied on his system to overcome the favored Kid M3mito. Once again, he found the opener in the eighth minute. The defending champ responded with a tactical display of quick passes to score from the edge of the 18-yard-box in the 11th minute and took a lead into halftime through a 39th-minute goal from Luka Modric.
With only a half remaining (each match consisted of two six-minutes halves), Doolsta turned to his top striker to wrestle control away from his opponent. After a long build-up of short but decisive passes, the Union gamer turned to Ronaldo tied the contest in the 61st minute and took the lead six minutes later through a long-range strike. With Kid M3mito on the brink of defeat, Modric was called on once again and evened the scoreline. As fans at the ESports Arena buzzed, Doolsta completed the upset: It was Ronaldo once more who made the decisive play, making a perfectly timed run into the box for the winner.
Doolsta now sits atop the overall Eastern Conference standings with 30 points and six bonus points. All points help determine the seeding at the 2019 eMLS Cup presented by PlayStation. Doolsta — now a champion — returns to action next month for eMLS League Series Two in Dallas.