On Saturday 13th February 2016, Play Like a Legend returned to the Gfinity Arena eSports venue in Fulham Broadway, with the much anticipated second year, season one live final.
The FIFA 16 event, which was the most watched professional FIFA tournament in 2015, once again welcomed the biggest and best FIFA gamers from across Europe to compete for a colossal $7,000 prize pool.
The standard was arguably the strongest that any Play Like a Legend event has welcomed with current champion and talent favourite Spencer Ealing of Epsilon Sports there to defend his title. He would face another former winner, last season’s runner up and personality Brian Savary of Team Vitality and former World Champion August “Agge” Rosenmeier, not forgetting the nine other world-class online qualifiers.
Four groups of three players would battle it out for two spots in each group, which meant that just four would be eliminated from the groups, and eight would progress. Players would face each other twice in the group stages (home and away) with any aggregate tie settled in a third game by silver/golden goal or penalties if required.
The day started with an unorthodox beginning. Group D, the fourth of four groups, was left with one space open. Erhan Kayman (AcerDrehano) and Agge would not have a bye into the quarter finals, but one position would be filled from the winner of the Spencer FC Game Academy Tournament. The final of that tournament, billed as the Academy Match, would be won by Harry (TheNotoriousHJH) who overcame Jack (JackB20). Despite appearing the more nervous physically and going behind early on in both legs, Harry dominated both legs, winning 4-2 on aggregate.
Group A saw runaway first place qualifier Timo Siep (Acer Timox) alongside unknown Kurto411 from Malta and Frenchman Nathan Gil (Pulse Herozia).
Group B had pre-tournament favourite and three time Gfinity champion Epsilon Gorilla alongside season 3 runner up Sam Carmody (XL Poacher) and third place qualifier, Frenchman Vicente Dubois (Vicente)
Group C saw Englishman Sean Allen (XL Dragon), one of the pre-tournament favourites Vitality Brian and Lucas Wallman (OB Afro) from Sweden who was competing in his first ever FUT-lan event.
Group D was arguably the easiest to qualify from despite having a former World Champion in AGGE. He was paired with amateur Harry from Spencer’s academy and German player Erhan Kayman (AcerDrErhano).
The Quarter Finals
Each quarter final would again be played over two legs (home and away) and would be decided by a third leg if required.
Game One - Kurt0411 vs OB Afro
The first game would see Group A winner, Kurt0411, face Group C runner up, OB Afro. On paper, one could argue this was the ‘easiest’ knockout game with both players turning up to Gfinity unrepresented and somewhat unknown at LAN events. However, much like Epsilon Gorilla before, one would have been foolish to rule either player out of the running.
Kurt, as expected, started much the better of the two, with a goal scored inside the first 8 minutes. This goal would be followed by a half of domination from the Maltese player who would score two further goals to take a huge three goal lead into the second half of the first game.
Despite only pulling one back in the second half of the first game, OB Afro had much more of the ball, something that clearly would give him confidence in the second game.
Kurt would once again strike early in the second game and take a seemingly unassailable 3 goal lead, but a late first half finish from Suarez pulled the game back within Afro’s reach.
Kurt had several chances to finish the game off at the start of the second half of the second game, hitting the post twice and testing Neuer on multiple occasions, but it was that inability to kill off the game that would cost Kurt. Afro scored three quick goals on 60, 73 and a Paul Pogba penalty on 79 to take what would be an unassailable 5 – 4 lead.
Result: OB Afro 5 – 4 Kurt0411
Game Two - Epsilon Gorilla vs Acer Dr Erhano
Current champion Huge Gorilla was the clear favourite for this two-legged game, having won both of his games in Group B with Acer Dr Erhano, finishing second in the only group with a player who did not qualify for the tournament traditionally.
Despite having 61% of the ball in the first half of the first game, Dr Erhano found himself a goal down, and that wouldn’t improve in the second half with Spencer scoring two more goals to kill the tie off at 3-0.
Although dominating possession once again, Dr Erhano struggled to break Spencer down until right on the stroke of half time when a Ronaldo triple tap pass across the area would find legend Butragueño for a simple tap in and potentially a route back into the game for the Doctor. However, as the game became stretched, Spencer held tight and hit Dr Erhano on the counter to pick up two very late goals to wrap up the game 5-1 on aggregate.
Result: Huge Gorilla 5 – 1 Dr Erhano
Game Three - Vitality Brian vs Acer Timox
One of the most interesting quarter finals would see Vitality Brian come up against Group A runner up and runaway first place qualifier Acer Timox who, despite coming into the tournament as one of the favourites, could only finish runner up to Kurt.
Timox would capitalise on a goalkeeping mistake to take a one goal lead into the second half of the first leg, but complete domination in the second half would see Brian score twice. Some might say going into the second leg just a goal down was flattering to Timox.
The second game would see Brian take the lead, but Timox peg him back through a Luka Modric goal on 65, which left him with 25 minutes to level the game up or even go on and win it. The Frenchman showed resilience and the game finished with no further goals.
Despite the score suggesting otherwise it felt like a reasonably comfortable victory for the charismatic Frenchman.
Result: Vitality Brian 3 – 2 Acer Timox
Game Four - XL Poacher vs AGGE
Former world champion Agge would take on former Play Like a Legend finalist and newly signed Excel eSports player XL Poacher in the last of the quarter finals.
Who would have thought that with all the talent on show with regard to the players; legend Gullit, TOTY Ronaldo and Messi, that 84 rated Bernd Leno would put on arguably the performance of the day. Leno was outstanding for XL Poacher as Agge, somewhat expectedly, dominated. However, despite having the lion’s share of the ball and the majority of the chances, Agge could only take a one goal lead into the second game thanks to a Ronaldo penalty.
The second game went the way the first one should have. Agge was dominant from start to finish picking up a 3-0 win thanks to two goals in the first half from Gullit and Robben before a breakaway Robben goal in the second half wrapped things up.
Result: AGGE 4 – 0 XL Poacher
Game 1 - Epsilon Gorilla vs Vitality Brian
It would have been fitting for any tournament in the world if this game was the final, but the gods of the draw saw Spencer vs Brian in the first semi-final of the day.
When you expect a great couple of games they can sometimes let you down, but these two games most certainly did not disappoint.
As expected with Spencer, whose FIFA style could be described as ultra-attacking, there were plenty of goals. In fact, the first half of the first leg saw four goals evenly split, 2-2 at half time. After a second half where both players looked somewhat worried to concede the next goal, Vitality Brian made a breakthrough right on the stroke of full time scoring a well worked goal with Ronaldo.
Brian would carry that momentum into the second game scoring very early on with George Best giving him a two goal lead, but sometimes, as we’ve seen in the past, when Spencer has his back to the wall, that’s when he plays his best FIFA. Although he only needed two goals to level it up and three to win, Spencer went one better with four goals without reply to become the first finalist of the night.
Result: Huge Gorilla 6 – 4 Vitality Brian
Game 2 - OB Afro vs Agge
The unknown Swede against the former World Champion only had one outcome, right?
Well, the first game was anything but what might have been expected on form. OB Afro, who had that outstanding comeback against Kurt0411, saw out the first leg with a hard fought 1-0 victory, which left Agge needing two goals without reply in the second leg.
“Nine out of ten times that would have gone in” declared commentator Bateson as OB Afro found Bale unmarked in the area on 87 to score the goal that would have taken the game to extra time.
Yes, Agge had done everything expected of him and had taken a two goal lead in the second leg of the tie, but it was by no means convincing, which was mirrored by the fact the former World Champion felt the need to time waste at the end of the second leg to secure his passage to the final.
OB Afro was marginally beaten, but has a future tournament favourite been found?
Result: AGGE 2 – 1 OB Afro
Huge Gorilla vs Agge
Surprisingly enough, bar a few group stage shocks, the event had gone to form. Arguably the three pre-tournament favourites; Agge, Spencer and Brian (who would beat OB Afro to finish third) finished in the top three.
When you put Spencer, a man who has the ‘we’ll score one more than you’ philosophy against Agge, whose style is somewhat more measured, you expect both teams to score in a thrilling game.
However, that was not to be the case.
A completely dominating performance by Spencer saw him take a substantial 4-0 lead into the second leg. A performance for the ages, that would absolutely stun those inside Gfinity Arena. Complete domination.
So, there was the formality of the second leg to come, but just before that, the Gfinity audience saw Spencer’s win/loss ratio on his personal account on FIFA 16; 1,400 wins to 70 losses, absolute other worldly.
The second game, although full of quality, was somewhat anticlimactic given the fact it looked as though both players knew that nothing bar a miracle would see Spencer walk away with another title.
Spencer would close out the game with a decent 1-0 victory to demolish one of the best FIFA players in the world by five goals in the final, cementing his status as the one to beat when it comes to FUT tournaments.
Result: Huge Gorilla 5 – 0 Agge
1) Epislon Gorilla - $4,000
2) Agge - $2,000
3) Vitality Brian - $1,000
Come and join us for the Play Like a Legend 2 Season 2
If you’re a FIFA fan and you live in London come and join us for our second event, which will be held on the 26th March. To keep up to date with when tickets are released, make sure you follow our social media channels, the links to which you can find at the top of any page on this website.
Even if you’re not from London, as tickets are available from just £5 for what ended up as a 12-hour event, you’re sure to get value for money. Some people from further afield even come to the event to watch while visiting London.
The Gfinity Arena is roughly a three-minute walk from Fulham Broadway station, which has great connections to central London. Many buy tickets for the day and come to the knockout stages after spending the day in London, some come and stay all day. For the price on offer, and to experience that atmosphere, it’s fantastic value for money.
I took the time to ask some of the biggest names in gaming, and the talent on the day, why they think the Play Like a Legend series at the Gfinity Arena is well worth a visit:
“Well it’s a great complex, a custom built gaming venue in London. I’ve seen a number of events here, not just FIFA, but Call of Duty, when it gets packed out in there it’s a great atmosphere.” Spencer Owen (Spencer FC – FIFA Youtuber)
“I think they should come and watch it because of the talent really. I made it here through the Spencer Academy, which was a high standard in itself, then I got absolutely battered 8-0 in the event, so you can see the level of talent that is on offer here.” Harry (TheNotoriousHJH – Spencer FC Academy Gamer)
“If you love FIFA as much as I do and you’re interested in not only seeing, but learning from the best and you want to support one of your favourite games then there’s no reason not to come down here and enjoy the experience and the atmosphere created in one of the most up and coming eSports in the industry.” Chris Trout (Professional FIFA Commentator)
“It’s a different atmosphere, it’s a lot more intense than you might expect. You can learn a lot of tips from the players here and you can find out which players are the best. Not only just turning up to the event, but watching the streams and supporting Gfinity.” Bateson87 – FIFA Youtuber
For me, if you’re a FIFA fan and you live within a reasonable distance of the Gfinity Arena, the event should be a must visit every season. As you can see from the above comments and from the talent, there’s a number of reasons why people come down; atmosphere, to learn from the best, to watch the best and to support a game that millions of people love to play.
On top of all of that you get to meet and speak to the players and the talent who are more than happy to chat when they’re not working. It’s always great talking to the biggest names in the industry as they have insight that you simply cannot get from anybody else.
Last, but by no means least, it’s important to remember that the Gfinity Arena is the UKs first dedicated eSports arena, which means the setup is second to none. The custom built converted cinema screening room boasts comfortable seating, surround sound, 4K cinema screens and professional commentary throughout every single game.
An experience that in my opinion is second to none for any real FIFA player.
Keep up to date with all the latest gaming and eSports news via our Twitter: @Gfinity.