On Oct. 19, Chicago Fire FC announced an expanded eSports roster ahead of the 2022 EA Sports FIFA competitive season and events calendar.
On the roster were familiar faces Guillermo “Memo” Treviño (a.k.a. Kid M3mito), Enrique Espinoza (BITW7), and Edhem Jukovic (Hektic JukeZ) - all of whom have previously represented the Fire in some capacity since the inception of the Club's eSports team - as well as Kacey Anderson (CHI_Kacee), a new addition and the first-ever female gamer to represent a Major League Soccer club.
Anderson, who is also the Fire's Manager of Marketing and eSports, has been instrumental in leading the organization's approach to gaming over the last several years. That interest eventually led her to stepping in front of the camera and starting a Twitch channel of her own, a decision that - a year-and-a-half later - has now led to her breaking new ground as an official content creator and streamer for her hometown Club.
ChicagoFireFC.com caught up with Anderson following last week's announcement to discuss the path that led her towards streaming initially, what it means to make MLS history, and what her plans are for taking the Fire's FIFA and eSports efforts to the next level in 2022.
Read the full Q&A (edited for clarity) below:
ChicagoFireFC.com: After a few years spent working behind the scenes in the eSports world, what made you decide to get into streaming on your own?
Kacey Anderson: "I started when COVID kind of began. Obviously, we were stuck at home. A lot of my FIFA friends I’d seen have success on Twitch, so I was like, ‘I might try this.’ I actually started off not playing FIFA, because I was too nervous (laughs). I started off playing other, smaller games. Eventually, I grew the confidence to start FIFA and actually jump into the FIFA scene, and that’s where it kind of blew up. So, March of 2020 is when I started, and I became partnered on Twitch within six months."
CFFC.com: How did the connections you made during your different roles working in eSports for the Fire help lead you towards streaming?
KA: "I started off in marketing with the Fire, but part of my role working at the CIBC Fire Pitch was to run local, casual FIFA tournaments. That’s where my love for FIFA started. I played casually on my own, but work-wise, I started running tournaments and then eventually started overseeing all of our eSports endeavors - managing our pro players, traveling to tournaments, running any type of online FIFA activation we had. So, two years ago is when I started overseeing everything eSports."
CFFC.com: What was it like starting out? Was it what you expected?
KA: "It was not. I blew up way quicker than I ever thought I would. I thought I would go on there, I would have a couple of my friends in the chat just watching me play, and it would be super casual. I really thought it was just going to be a fun little hobby, and it kind of blew up into something I never really anticipated - in a good way. People seemed to really enjoy the content I was putting out. It’s funny, because I’m not even amazing at the game. I would never consider myself a pro player, but people enjoyed hanging out with me, watching me play FIFA, and talking about soccer. We obviously talk about the Fire all the time. I’m pleasantly surprised by what it turned into, but it’s not what I expected."
CFFC.com: To have come so far in such a relatively short amount of time, what’s it been like to navigate this rise within the FIFA space?
KA: "It’s cool. In 2021, I was the No. 1 female FIFA streamer in North America. That was kind of crazy, especially because it’s such a male-dominated space. I can count on one hand how many women are streaming in FIFA. To take that spot and take that responsibility was exciting and also terrifying at the same time. I’ve watched myself pass a lot of men in the space, which is cool. To see that all happen in such a small amount of time has been awesome and exciting."
CFFC.com: You used the word “responsibility” there. Is that a big factor in how you approach things?
KA: "One thousand percent. When you’re one of the first people to do something, people are looking at you and learning from you. It’s not even just women. It’s anyone who is underrepresented in the sports and gaming space. I’ve kind of cultivated a bit of a community of people who feel accepted and comfortable hanging out with me. There’s a lot of other FIFA communities that are toxic, and they thrive on that sort of thing and bring each other down. I’m very, very adamant in my community that everyone is positive. Even if you’re not good at the game and just want to talk about soccer, or be a woman and not be told that you don’t know anything about soccer or gaming - I definitely hold that responsibility and don’t take it lightly. I like representing all the people in the space who may be shy and don’t feel comfortable speaking out. I happily took that on, but it is a big responsibility."
CFFC.com: “The first female gamer to represent a Major League Soccer club” - How do those words hit you when you hear them?
KA: "Honestly it kind of blows my mind (laughs). The fact that I hold that title and I’m the one that was given that amazing opportunity, I’m very, very grateful. It’s for my home Club. Chicago Fire is my life. The fact that I’m able to merge both of my roles and represent the Club and also be the first woman is an awesome opportunity. I know I won’t be the last. I really hope that more MLS clubs take on this diverse approach and continue to sign more women, but it’s pretty awesome that I’m the first."
CFFC.com: What’s your relationship like with the rest of the Fire's eSports crew? What do you think are the group’s strengths heading into 2022?
KA: "Individually, Kid M3mito is our main gamer. He’ll compete for eMLS. He was a rock star for us last year. He brought home a trophy, which is always exciting. I have high hopes for him this year. He’s ready to go. He’s on PlayStation this year, which is a big difference from last year, so I’m excited for him. BITW7, he’s such a great personality. We call him our “Homegrown” because he’s a Chicago Fire Juniors coach. He’s also got high hopes for the competitive season, and locally we’d love to get him involved in the community with kids. That will be really fun to see. Then, we brought back Hektic Jukez, so that’s awesome as well. He signed for us in our very first season and had some successes there. Last season he was unsigned, but he was top-8 in North America. We saw that he was killing it, so we decided to bring him back. He’s a Chicago native, so we’re excited to have him on the roster."
"With three Chicagoans and one out of Houston, we’re pretty well-rounded as a group. I’m hoping for some trophies for our guys and I’m hoping to get more engagement for the Club and bring it all together with all of our different personalities."
CFFC.com: Why should Fire fans be excited about this expansion of the Club's eSports roster and its further investment in the space?
KA: "Even if you’re not a big gaming fan, soccer and FIFA is such an easy game to get into. If you like soccer, you’re going to want to watch FIFA. It looks exactly like a soccer game, and it’s quick, too. You can watch our games and get excited because you’re rooting for your soccer team. They play with the crest, they have our Chicago Fire crest on. Kid M3mito is wearing our kit with his name on the back. If you’re rooting for Chicago Fire eSports, you’re rooting for Chicago Fire. If you’re an eSports fan, you’re also a Chicago Fire fan. They go hand-in-hand. All of our stuff is streamed, so fans can watch that this season and hopefully see us win some trophies and represent this Club with pride. We want to win on the pitch and on the virtual pitch, so fans have that to look forward to."
CFFC.com: What types of things can Fire fans expect from you personally as we look ahead to next year?
KA: "I plan on streaming all the time. All of my streams are generally at night, starting at 7 p.m. CT. Everyone can catch me on Twitch - CHI_Kacee - where we talk about the Fire all the time. For the 2022 season we’ll be doing some away match watch parties live on my channel. That will be really awesome to hang out with fans, watch the game together, and root on the Fire. I’ll also be there with all of our pro players for every competition that they’re at, supplying some content, fun videos, interviews, that sort of thing. Additionally, we will look to capture some FIFA content with the first team players. There’s a lot of guys on the team who enjoy playing the game, so we can get some fun videos on the pitch and the virtual pitch together."