The Gfinity Elite Series Delivered by Domino’s is back in full swing after a breathless night at the Gfinity Esports Arena for the second week of FIFA 19. Week 2 saw Nordavind and Vitality in action for the first time in Season 4 with both keen to make an early impression and get their first taste of the brand new 2v2 format.
Nordavind vs Hashtag United
Ryan and Shawreyy were looking to build on their excellent 4-2 win in their first game of the Elite Series in the Xbox leg, but Chnewar and Denii had high hopes that they could get off to a winning start as they took to the stage at the Gfinity Esports Arena for the first time in Season 4.
The much-fancied Hashtag United looked impressive in their Week 1 win over ASUS ROG Army, but it was Nordavind who struck first on the Xbox as they scored with Thierry Henry - the most expensive player from the auction - to get their Elite Series off to the best possible start.
However, the lead was short lived as Hashtag capitalised on loose play from Nordavind to equalise with Emilio Butragueño around 10 minutes before halftime to make it 1-1. But with seconds to go before the break, a period of prolonged Nordavind pressure on the Hashtag goal paid off, and they retook the lead with Lionel Messi grabbing the goal.
The pendulum swung again just a few minutes into the second half as Hashtag equalised with Pelé to level it up at 2-2. Despite both teams having good chances throughout the rest of the half, neither could force a winner and a draw was probably a fair result.
The versatile Denii appeared once again for Nordavind on the PS4, this time paired up with Diogo Peixoto who would be looking to establish himself in the side after just two appearances in Season 3. For Hashtag, Harry came in to replace EthxnH alongside DreamR to create a fearsome line-up.
However, it was déjà vu in the second game as Nordavind struck inside the first 10 minutes with Thierry Henry again the scorer. Unlike the previous game, the Nordavind defence stayed strong and managed to get to halftime with their lead intact.
Having initially looked a little out of sync, Hashtag improved in the second half, but despite going close late on with Sadio Mané shooting just wide and Emilio Butragueño hitting the post with a searing strike from outside the box, they couldn’t find the goal they needed. Nordavind then hit Hashtag with a sucker-punch in injury time with Thierry Henry scoring from a quick counter-attack to secure a 2-0 win.
ASUS ROG Army vs Man City Epsilon
Ralfitita and iHasiin lined up for ASUS ROG Army on the Xbox as the Spanish side made wholesale changes to their FIFA starting rosters. The debutants were up against Mence and Connor for Man City Epsilon off the back of their impressive win over Season 3 champions AS Roma Fnatic last time around.
ROG Army were looking to bounce back after their defeat to Hashtag United in Week 1, but it was Epsilon who struck first as the first half drew to a close with Dennis Bergkamp striking with a finesse shot from outside the area. Epsilon then doubled their advantage as some excellent skill from Ronaldinho created space for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score with a shot from the edge of the box, although the commentators questioned whether the goalkeeper could have done more.
Staring down the barrel of another defeat, ROG Army’s main man R9 stepped up to slot home a loose ball with 15 minutes to go to make it 2-1. However, Epsilon managed to repel everything ROG Army had to throw at them to claim their third consecutive win of the Elite Series.
Two more debutants made their way onto the stage for the PS4 leg for ROG Army as Kalan joined Ralfitita to take on the fearsome duo of deto and Gotzery.
ROG Army got off to a great with Gareth Bale powering home a header early on. The lead didn’t last for long as Ronaldinho arrowed a shot into the top corner from inside the box to make it 1-1 at halftime.
The game’s end-to-end action didn’t stop there, as moments after a crucial tackle from Sergio Ramos stopped ROG Army from going clean through on goal, a brilliant long-range strike from Ronaldinho saw Epsilon come from behind to take the lead.
Gotzery and deto showed their experience late on to keep the ball high up the pitch to stifle any chance of a ROG Army comeback, helping them secure their second two 2-1 win of the day and maintain their perfect record at the start of the season.
Team Vitality vs Dream Team Gaming
Fully and Bullock were first up on the Xbox for Dream Team Gaming as they sought to put the heartache of Envy’s late Rivaldo equaliser behind them. Maestro and Rafsou were thrust into the starting roster for Vitality as last season’s mainstays Brian and Moolzn were left on the bench.
Vitality were the livelier side at the start, hitting the outside of the post with Paul Pogba early on. Dream Team then challenged the Vitality goal with a series of chances saved by Peter Schmeichel. Build-up play was excellent from both teams, but a lack of composure in front of goal saw the game scoreless heading into the last few minutes.
Miroslav Klose also hit the post for Dream Team, but ultimately defences won the day and both teams were left to reflect on their finishing as the game finished 0-0 with Vitality hoping to find their shooting boots and get on the scoresheet for the first time in the second game on the PS4.
There was just one change to the starting rosters of both teams for the PS4 leg as Tom replaced Fully for Dream Team to make his first appearance in the Elite Series.
Controversy reigned early on in the second game as a soft challenge from Fabio Cannavaro on Henrik Larsson was deemed worthy of a penalty for Dream Team, with Larsson then stepping up to give his side a 1-0 lead. Vitality didn’t let the decision get them down, as they struck back with a left-footed shot on the turn from Hernan Crespo levelling things up just a few minutes later.
Vitality’s comeback was complete before halftime as they made it 2-1 just before the break. A great through ball found Luis Hernandez in space on the edge of the area, but with plenty of work still to do, Vitality had the composure to execute a perfect ball roll to take the goalkeeper out of the equation and give the French side the lead.
Despite having few chances throughout the second half, Dream Team’s Klose was on hand to turn home a cross to make it 2-2. Vitality would have the final say, as Cristiano Ronaldo guided home a header in injury time to leave Dream Team ruing the concession of a late goal for the second week in a row.
Envy vs Method
Jablett and Joey lined up for Envy on the Xbox, with both hoping to build on their 2-2 draw with Fully and Bullock in Week 1. Gary Magee took on additional responsibility for Method, lining up both consoles alongside the returning Venny.
An extraordinary strike from Johan Cruyff gave the Boys In Blue the lead early on, with commentators and players alike left aghast by the quality of the Dutchman’s finish. There was no case of shellshock from Method though, as they replied with a fine goal of their own from Pavel Nedved after 23 minutes to make it 1-1.
Envy looked the more likely to score in the second half, going close with efforts from Rivaldo and Lucas to no avail. The pressure ultimately told as a Sol Campbell challenge on Alessandro Del Piero in the box gave Envy the chance to take the lead in the 81st minute from the penalty spot.
However, Del Piero’s strike was saved by Jens Lehmann low to his right, with two frantic follow-up efforts from Envy also repelled by the German goalkeeper. Envy were left to rue the miss as the game ended 1-1 with Jablett disconsolate come the final whistle.
Method’s line up was unchanged for the PS4 leg, although both would have their work cut out against the hugely impressive LostInTheWavesz and Jas.
The final game of the evening was a tense affair with both sides mindful of the draw that came before them. In the end, Envy’s high-press paid off as Rivaldo was in the right place to turn home a cross from Cruyff, and Method were once again tasked with trying to come from behind to get something out of the game.
Method’s lack of pace up top left them hamstrung at times, although they did go close early in the second half with a shot from Nedved drifting just wide. Envy managed to weather the storm, and some fantastic skill from Cruyff on the edge of the area created enough space to whip a vicious left-footed shot into the back of the net to make it 2-0. Envy were at it again with Cruyff soon after with another chance this time ending up in the grateful hands of the goalkeeper.
Envy had several chances to put the result beyond any doubt, and finally their quality told as Lucas smashed home a near-post strike, taking advantage of the Method ‘keeper moving too far towards the centre of the goal. Method bagged a late consolation with Luis Figo to make it 3-1, but it was too little, too late and Envy claimed all three points to top in Group A.
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