The Canadian Premier League kick-off this coming Saturday will be our biggest event in some time. The entire domestic soccer community will be settling down at 1 PM Eastern, either in Forge FC’s stadium or in front of CBC television, to witness a new and hopefully more positive era in our nation’s game. This otherwise quite ordinary league fixture is making hearts across the Dominion beat a bit faster, like an Olympic semi-final.
Nothing could better herald this dawn than our mascots. Four of the Canadian Premier League’s seven teams have, in recent weeks, introduced us to new mascots who will stand as symbols for all time, representing the Canadian Premier League to ourselves and to the world. Canada’s national coat of arms is supported by a unicorn and a lion, representing the British heritage of our governance and our culture that goes back way before Confederation. Perhaps, in a couple centuries, some new country will bear arms supported by Bolt and Stewie the Starfish. It is scarcely less probable than the existence of the Canadian Premier League itself.
In honour of this joyous week I have decided to rank all of the league’s mascots so far, from best to worst. These ratings are entirely objective and based off a proprietary statistical algorithm developed by the Prince of Wales and tested by Maple Leaf Forever!‘s secret nerd hive in Sudbury-Thunder Bay. As a result its decisions are not to be argued with, only agreed on and amplified.
Finally, if you got to this post from Reddit or something and are confused, you should know that every word in this article is completely serious.
1. Vic (Valour FC)
Strengths: Is, identifiably, a lion in a Valour kit. But not too identifiably. If you search Amazon for “lion costume” he isn’t on the first page. Is named after Canadian legend Vic Rauter, who has spent a lot of time in Winnipeg. Lions are classy mascots in any context, whether for a soccer club or the British Empire. Is far from the lamest of the mascots when in cartoon form. And was the first mascot announced back in February, which surely counts for something.
Weaknesses: Probably isn’t actually named after Vic Rauter.
Wild card: In Vic’s own words:
My dad played keeper for the Winnipeg Fury when they used to play at the old Winnipeg Stadium, so I followed in his footsteps.
The Fury played at Winnipeg Stadium from 1987 to 1992 so there are many possibilities, including 1990 league all-star Tim Rosenfeld. However by far the best known former Fury goalkeeper was 57-time Canadian international Pat Onstad, who played three CSL seasons for the Fury in 1989, 1990, and 1992. Vic refers to his dad being “king” of the Assiniboine Park Zoo “for years,” and Onstad was a useful MLS goalkeeper to the age of 42. It is now canon that Valour FC’s mascot is Pat Onstad’s son. The history of Canadian soccer will have to be rewritten.
Conclusions: Simple, classy. The fact that he is the bastard child of the guy who cost us a spot in the hex in 2008 can, with the passage of years, be forgiven. Vic is the clear king of the mascot jungle.
2. Ballsy (FC Edmonton)
Strengths: Nobody ever looked at Ballsy and said “what sport do they play?”
Weaknesses: Back in 2016 Jay Ball shot Ballsy in the head and buried the deflated remains behind a barn in Strathcona County. When Academy kids ask where Ballsy is they say that he’s playing with dogs on a beautiful farm where the turf is always artificial.
Wild card: Is “Ballsy” actually his name or was that just a meme? I am sure they were calling him “Eddie” for a hot second there.
Conclusions: Someday we are going to bust Ballsy out of Saint Helena and then you’ll all pay.
3. Stewie the Starfish (Pacific FC)
Strengths: The most bad-ass cartoon on offer. A shape that lends itself well to cookies. The only mascot both named after and executed in one of the team’s bespoke marketing colours. When you think about it, a purple soccer-playing starfish could actually be really good.
Weaknesses: The gap between the bad-ass-looking trident-wielding cartoon Stewie and the real-life droopy sponge could not be wider. Even CHEK News admitted he looks like Grimace in a knock-off kit. He was also possibly named after mayor of Langford Stewart Young, whose promised renovations to Westhills Stadium helped lure a Canadian Premier League team. This is not to be encouraged.
Wild card: Pacific FC held an open mascot tryout in March. This probably sounded fun at a time but created a risk that the new mascot promoting the team to children would be a guy who owned his own fursuit. Even with a bespoke design, these are concerning genetics.
Conclusions: Like David Choinière, Stewie has not put it all together yet but the ingredients are there, and at the Canadian Premier League level he will have every chance to succeed. Perhaps he can be sold to Orlando City for a lavish transfer fee and the proceeds reinvested in young mascots from Van Isle.
4. Blue Bolt (FC Edmonton)
Strengths: Has a logo. In fact has a secondary logo, which seems a little extra. Is the only CanPL mascot to date derived from his team’s history, since FC Edmonton’s the only team with any. “Bolt” is a respectable name.
Weaknesses: “Blue Bolt” is somehow not a respectable name at all. FC Edmonton 3D-rendered their mascot reveal, and the results were so creepy I will hold it against Bolt forever. Also between the blue, the lightning, and the speed theme, he is obviously a Sonic the Hedgehog clone that got lost on his way to the Sega Genesis. Except, and I know perfectly well Bolt has two eyebrows whereas this guy has one, something about the top of the face recalls an evil Bert. This is not a great association.
Wild card: What’s with how deadly-serious that reveal video was? Is this a darker and edgier FC Edmonton for the ’90s? Is Bolt going to star in a nine-hour-long comic book movie for emotionally undeveloped adults? What’s going on here?
Conclusions: Bolt is probably the mascot who best demonstrates that mascots aren’t for us. He is so cringe-worthy, and so weird, and so derivative, and the boys will probably love him anyway. He should get a Twitch.
5. Sparx (Forge FC)
Strengths: Is the fire emoji, so his brand is being unwittingly promoted by thirsty Snapchatters around the world. And despite this universality Frumx is not going to be mistaken for any other team’s mascot, in any league, on any continent. You could see him on a Vietnamese mountain communing with the spirits and be like “wait, is that Hamilton’s beloved Jornx?”
Weaknesses: It would probably be a copyright violation to embed the entire nine-page comic Forge released on Jankx’s origin story. But I really really want to.
Wild card: Given that mascots are for children, and that Forge owner Bob Young is one of the motive forces behind the entire Canadian Premier League, it is just possible that Plugx’s firey demeanour will motivate a youngster to stick his hand into the furnace after a particularly delightful win, leading to a massive series of lawsuits that wind up crippling Forge and the league as a whole, which would be untoward.
Conclusions: You’ll always have a place on our team, Krunx!