KANSAS CITY, Kan. — With the coronavirus putting all live sports on hold, one KCK man is about to be on what’s currently one of sports biggest stages: esports.
Esports has been growing in popularity over the years, and particularly over the past few months. Whether it’s football, basketball, baseball or NASCAR, there’s something for evreyone.
But Christian Garcia’s favorite virtual competition is soccer, particularly the popular FIFA video game.
“It’s crazy to see it just grow consistently, and now with the coronavirus going on, how everbody’s indoors, it’s kind of amplified how big and how viable it is and how it’s a real competitive scene,” Garcia, better known online as Alekzandur, said.
The Turner High School grad represents Sporting KC in the eMLS. He started playing when he was just 7 years old.
“I had my dad’s friend. He brought home a PlayStation, and that’s the first time I ever got exposed to it,” Garcia said.
Very quickly, he realized he was much better than most kids just playing games at home.
“For a 17-year-old kid to make $4,000 on a weekend and getting to travel to Miami, my parents start to realize this not something normal,” Garcia said. “I’ve tested myself against very good players, and I think I can do it, and then I competed and I ended up in first in North and South America.”
Alekzandur worked his way up to one of the best in the world. Nearly thousands watch him play on Twitch nightly. He even traveled to London to compete under Italian club AS Roma.
He’s placed as high as fifth in world tournaments, netting $10,000, but the KCK native is back representing the home club — and he has a plan.
“You have to learn what works, like what type of shot works, angles, all that type of stuff, how much power you need,” he said. “And it all comes down to practice. You have to want it.”
He has a typical formation and a favorite player which, based on FIFA availability, is Sporting KC’s Gerso Fernandes.
And when he represents Sporting KC in the upcoming eMLS tournament, the catch is it won’t just be him. He’ll be playing with the club’s Wan Kuzain.
“Guess we’ll see how he does,” Garcia said. “I hear he’s very good. We haven’t played yet like I said, but I think he’s very good.”
It’s a 5-week tournament starting this Sunday on FS1, and there’s a lot on the line.
“A lot of money is going to Feeding America, the organization that we’re playing under,” the KCK teen said. “I’m very happy, very excited to see how Wan does. I hope we put on a very good show. I think we have a very good shot.”