Former soccer player at Oshawa’s Ontario Tech now major player in Esports world

Published April 6, 2023 at 9:32 am

Former Ontario Tech men’s soccer player Alexander Cuccovillo is still involved in competitive sports six years after his last game at Ontario Tech, only now he’s mainly concerned with a mouse and keyboard rather than kicking a soccer ball.

Cuccovillo is the co-owner of the Gaimin Gladiators, a North American-based Esports organization which competes in tournaments for several games, including Dota 2, Apex Legends, and Rocket League.

After graduating from Ontario Tech with a degree in criminology and a psychology minor, Cuccovillo could not find a job that dealt with troubled youth, his desired field. After working with his family for a few years, he, his brother Nick, and his best friend, Shawn Clements-Porter, had an idea.

“When I started looking for a career in this field, I worked with my dad full-time at his painting and renovations company, The Painters Group.,” said Cuccovillo. “After working with him for quite some time, I decided to continue the family business and help my dad and mom. After a few years working with my parents, I was an on-site supervisor and made some decent money that I decided with my brother and best friend to start my own Esports organization.”

After joining the Esports scene four years ago, Cuccovillo and his two partners created the OCG Esports (Oceanus Gaming Esports) organization. He viewed this organization like some major ownership groups that control professional hockey or basketball teams.

“The best way to think about what an esports organization is would be to think of MLSE, which has multiple sports under its umbrella. It’s similar with Esports; you have multiple video game titles that compete under your organization.”

After competing in lower tier levels for several years and slowly beginning to gain traction investors came calling last year, with an offer made in December 2021.

“We had some small sponsorships that would take a percentage of tournament and league winnings to help run the organization,” he said. “A little over one year ago, after talks with many investors, we were acquired by a company called Gaimin, which would allow us to scale our e-sports organization to a higher level.”

A year later, the organization experienced major success. It had reached the top level of Esports competition, and the Gladiators began collecting some hardware.

“When we received investment in January 2022 we began to work in the Esports space full-time. In just over one year, our company went out and won one of the biggest tournaments in the world in one of the largest e-sports titles you can compete in, Dota 2 (The Lima Major),” he said. “We also qualified last year to the ‘World Cup’ of Dota 2 called ‘The International,’ which has a prize pool of over $20 million US.”

While at Ontario Tech, Cuccovillo played 39 games from 2014-15 to 2016-17. He says soccer and video games were an integral part of his upbringing.

“When I was growing up, I always played video games competitively and soccer,” he said. “Those were two things I loved and still do. I always wanted to be involved in a few things in my life, whether it was video games, soccer or helping troubled youth; those were at the top of my list. When I was younger, I competed and travelled the world playing a few different video games professionally.”

While Cuccovillo’s playing days are over for both soccer and video games, they are still a significant part of his life.

“I continue to coach youth soccer at East York Soccer Club, coaching multiple teams and being promoted to head of youth development. I have just finished my C License exams and look to continue upgrading my license as I continue to coach,” he said. “I always strived to do better at soccer, which quickly improved me at video games. I was always looking for ways to become better. I don’t play as much now, being one of the company’s owners, but I watch daily.”

He looks back at his time at Ontario Tech as an essential learning experience on and off the field. It allowed him to play the sport he loved and prepared him for the life he wanted to live once his playing career ended.

“Academics help me learn how to study/read things properly to get the most out of things and properly communicate on a professional level. It also helped me learn some legalities, contract, and law during my criminology courses, which helped with drafting contracts for players and sponsorship agreements,” he said. “Soccer helped me prepare by teaching me never to give up and work well with others. Soccer has always taught me to be competitive in whatever I do and always strive to be the best. I carry this with me wherever I go.”

With files from Aidan Cowling-McDonnell

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