JKO: Revolution eMLS Competitor Competitive and Exciting?

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The Oak Bluffs, MA native John Oliveira, when originally signed was JKO1707, his gamertag, in March 2018. Now known as JKO to the eMLS fans and other competitors, he recently rebranded in 2020. Oliveira was re-signed as the New England Revolution’s competitor during 2020 as well.

“We always aim to put out a competitive and exciting product on the field, and now with JKO1707 representing the Revs, we’ll look to do the same on the virtual pitch at eMLS Cup.”

Brian Bilello, New England Revolution, President, 2018

JKO1707 Steps On The Scene And Stumbles

JKO had his first eMLS appearance, in the inaugural eMLS Cup at PAX East in Boston over four days in 2018. Oliveira went three wins, three ties and 10 losses in that weekend. To be fair to John, he was very defensive and most matches he was able to score a goal at least. His goals allowed was 6th out of the 19 competitors in the eMLS Cup that year, only letting 36 goals against in 16 games. He just didn’t have enough attack to compliment the grand defense.

He gracefully bowed out in the tournament. Not winning enough on the Eastern Conference side to overtake the Red Bull’s competitor Mike LaBelle for a playoff spot. So, in his first appearance, it definitely seemed like he had what it takes. He just couldn’t turn those ties into wins to overtake the 8th spot. Overall, he ended up in 18th out the 19 competitors. I don’t find that to be achieving, as Brian Bilello and JKO himself noted they wanted going forward.

Nevertheless, we move on to 2019, where they got league play going. The league commissioners split the eMLS regular season into League Series One and League Series Two. They gave prizes through these mini-tournaments throughout the MLS season. The eMLS Cup competitors are then found to .

“I’m a very competitive person and am committed to winning, and I know the club shares that goal. I want to not only be the best player in eMLS, but also the most exciting for fans to watch and cheer for.”

John Oliveira, JKO, on his arrival interview about joining up.

EMLS 2019 – JKO Shows Promise

In the beginning of the eMLS season in 2019, John showed promise on the virtual field. He won four in the first eMLS League Series One while placing 14th out of 22 players. He continued his ability to play great defense. His goals allowed was 19, proving the previous statement while it still wasn’t enough. JKO only scored 13 goals this Series. If you’re looking to be competitive and exciting, this surely isn’t a way to prove it. It does show a positive trend out of JKO, who was looking promising from that.

The Revolution e-competitor trudged on to League Series Two. Soon, the promise that JKO showed in the first series washed away. Oliveira only managed to score eight goals throughout 11 games. He kept a similar goals allowed, which generally garners middle table for someone who scores as well! JKO was 20th out of 22 players overall this series which shows a terrible degradation of his play.

The eMLS season saw John fall short of the mark again to gain entrance to the eMLS Cup playoffs. 2019 allowed a new tournament function, where the top two teams in each conference got first round byes. The following three went into the knockout round. Then, the final players by conference were seeded. They entered into a mini tournament for the final two knockout round positions called the Last Chance Qualifier. JKO paired up with New York Red Bulls’ competitor, Mike Labelle, who finished last in the conference. He won convincingly 3-1. Moving onto the Semi-Final, he faced BITW18 II, a player who finished spot higher than him with two more wins. The ability to score and defend simultaneously disappeared from John completely and he lost 0-3. Thus ending his 2019 run for the eMLS Cup.

2020: Promising Beginning, A Large Descent Follows (Re-Signed?)

Credit: Revolution Communications

The season kicked off as normal, with the 2020 eMLS League Series One in January. Oliveira went out and decisively won and tied enough games to garner 15th out of 25 players. JKO scored 14 goals and allowed 18, his lowest goals against to date. The goals allowed is even more amazing as he saw one more game in this series than in 2019. As you can continue to see, he still can’t find the back of the net enough to provide wins enough to achieve the playoffs. Defense is all well and good, as long as you can back it up with some game winning goals.

The 2020 eMLS League Series Two was in February in Portland. John went into it with a positive outlook. He returned tattered and beaten. JKO procured only four goals from 12 matches, tying four matches in those 12. Ending up with a -21 goal differential and a 23rd place finish out of 25 players. That showing in the second series dashed the positive space he had acquired in the first series. 16 total points collected over 24 matches.

Although undeservedly, he was able to try to win a spot into the eMLS Cup playoffs due to the last chance qualifier. John managed to beat his first round opponent Mehdibob (CFMTL) 2-0. He had won four more games than JKO during the season, surprising to say the least. The next opponent that faced Oliveira wasn’t ready for the defensive play that comes with the territory. Gonzo (COL) matched one goal for one goal and went all the way to penalty kicks with him. John wasn’t ready for the PKs. He didn’t return any goals and lost 3-0 on kicks.

But Wait, There’s More…

After bowing out of the Last Chance qualifier in 2020, and posting a -21 goal differential for the season. The Revolution re-signed JKO as the eMLS competitor during December 2020 for the 2021 season. Not many people follow the leagues, but for those who do, this had to be a huge question mark for most other eMLS competitors and fans. Why would you re-sign a player who had an all time goal differential of -56 at that point?

JKO and Brian Billelo promised exciting, competitive soccer. I’m not sure a failure to place in any tournament that he appeared in counts as this. He had shown promise and an ability to make the passes to lead to wins. He failed to deliver the end product. But I digress, John continues to play into this season, which was canceled in-person for COVID-19. As well, it seems there wasn’t much in the way of a quote from the Revs President, as there was in the beginning.

2021: A FIFA Odyssey

Obviously, between COVID-19 and the force majeure clause, MLS life had been crazy. The 2021 League Series One still went off on time this year. The eMLS commisioners decided to have competitors safely play in the liability-free space of their own homes. The League Series One kicked off in January again and once again Oliveira provided a less than stellar performance. Two wins, two ties and 10 losses, allowing 30 goals. Obviously, adding more games leaves more room for a higher goals against, but this would mean more than 2 goals on average scored against him per game. He finished in 25th place out of 27 players.

The New England Revolution twitter hypes up JKO with a goal highlight video before eMLS League Series Two.

Heading into the eMLS League Series Two, he noted on Twitter, “Got to step up my defending and try to manage games better. Tough to lose some games where you play well, but that’s FIFA at the highest level, small mistakes cost big points.” Absolutely agreed there JKO and he did just that, he stepped his game up (a bit). The second series kicked off in February, where John ended up finishing higher up in the table, but still not enough. Three wins this time, with only one tie, losing eight. He scored only 13 goals, compared to the first series where he scored 19. The defense was marginally better allowing seven less goals during the competition.

JKO Looks To Right The Ship

And in February, we sit here looking back at JKO’s career as the eMLS competitor for the Revs, but also looking forward. He will still be performing in a third Last Chance qualifier opportunity for the 12th seed coming up on March 16th and 17th of this year prior to the eMLS Cup. The Cup playoffs will be played on March 20th and 21st, just three days later. Through seeding, as it stands, John will face IMCF_Pabs (Inter Miami) in the first round of the Last Chance bracket. Pabs tied with JKO earlier in Series One, so definitely up to par with him. Good luck to JKO!

The Culmination Of The Years

If we take all the years together, JKO did not ever put together a meaningful run towards any sort of trophy. Never making it past the Semi-Final in a last gasp tournament isn’t achieving at all. I can say that the play was always exciting, JKO is a professional player, but perhaps not one of the best pros out there. He is local however, so as we’ve all taken to heart a true local kid making his name, I applaud him for making his stamp on the eMLS. Most of all, making a name for himself in the realm of streaming and e-sports. Plus, he definitely created a pretty decent networking group to continue on through if his years as the eMLS competitor is over after March.

JKO deserves our thanks for going out on that stage and playing for us. But, do I believe he’s filled out the promises by Brian? No, not at all. I hope to see him step up to the plate this year and make me change my mind. Show us some exciting, competitive play and make a run for eMLS Cup playoffs this year.

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