José Sánchez: the FCB eSportsman with ice in his veins
He is the captain of the FC Bayern eSports team formed in December 2019. José Sánchez is one of the continent's best eFootball PES 2020 players. The 2017 European champion, together with Alex Alguacil and Miguel Mestre, has so far impressively demonstrated this in the eFootball.pro League. "The awarding of the captain's role was a joint decision by our coach and the responsible officials, we players had nothing to do with it," explained the 27-year-old. His responsibilities as captain are mainly organisational. "I support Lutti [Matthias Luttenberger] in preparing for training sessions, with communication regarding friendlies or, for example, with video analysis.
But what exactly is his role in FCB games? Is Sánchez more of a Kahn type - a real driving force - or the Lewandowski type - a man who scores lots of goals? "In any case, none of us needs an additional motivator; we are all always 100 percent on the ball. To many people I sometimes seem a bit quiet, that's why Alex always calls me the Iceman." As the oldest player on the team, he also has the most tournament experience. On the virtual pitch, Sánchez likes to pay attention to the tactical elements of the game.
All rounder with strengths in game plays
Their combined strengths make them a perfect team: Alguacil, Mestre and Sánchez (from left).
"It's the same in virtual football as in real football: If you assess the game situations correctly, you can react with the right strategies. Although I would describe myself as an all-rounder in playing terms, I excel particularly well in defence, for example. Each of us has our own personal strengths. I'm good at getting the ball forward, Alex, with his strong manual play provides the important last pass which outfoxes everybody, and Miguel provides the magic at the end," Sánchez summarised.
Football is ever-present
The esports pro grew up in the south-east of Spain, in the port city of Alicante. "Football-wise, it's all about Hercules CF there. They currently play in the third tier of Spanish football, but they were in the top division not too long ago. It was a tough blow for the people in the city when the team was relegated twice in the space of just a few years," says Sánchez. He wouldn't necessarily call himself a fan of the team, "but I like going to the games and it would also do the city a lot of good if the club were to get promoted up the leagues again."
More than just PES
Sánchez (on the ball) also likes other sports like paddle tennis, but he describes football as his great love.
Alicante is just under 200 kilometres away from Valencia, the home of Sánchez's team-mate Miguel Mestre. "We were already friends before we signed for FC Bayern and took part in PES tournaments together. When time and circumstances allow, we also like to visit each other. For example, last summer we spent a whole week together," Sánchez recalls. It's not just about video games: "We each also have our own private life that keeps us busy."
Harmony in the team
The gaming pro also misses this aspect with the eFootball.pro League suspended. Before the interruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, FC Bayern's esports team met every two weeks in Barcelona for matchdays. Team chemistry is a particularly important factor for Sánchez: "At dinner before the day of the game and also the day after, before everyone flew home, we'd always spend time with the whole team and talk about all sorts of things."
Looking after the players
And what would Sánchez's plan be if the eSports profession didn't exixt? "If I could choose: a professional football player!" The Spaniard has been playing for a club since he was a kid, mostly in Futbol 7 small-sided Spanish football matches. "But realistically, I would work as a physiotherapist. I studied that and that was also my job before my eSports career. Maybe one day I can do that at FC Bayern? Why not?" laughs Sánchez.
Recently, José Sánchez and his FCB teammates competed for the Spanish national team in UEFA eEuro 2020. Find out how they did here: