As we rolled into Week 4 of the Gfinity Elite Series Delivered by Domino’s, a unique spectacle was in store for all of those lucky enough to bag a ticket to the Gfinity Esports Arena. In a special Mid-Season Edition of the Elite Series, we saw some of our Season 4 draftees take centre stage in a few head-to-head matches with a twist!
Two of the favourites for the Season 4 title in FIFA 19, last season’s champions AS Roma Fnatic and Man City Epsilon, gave a chance to some of their draftees to show off their skills. Epsilon’s Gotzery and Mence have already made a big impression, going undefeated across the first three weeks, and Babosa and Zac Moore were also hoping to make a big impression as a part of a fiercely competitive Fnatic roster.
The two Elite Series heavyweights wouldn’t be facing off against one another though, as the young upstarts would be testing their credentials against Gfinity casters Chris Trout and Onset! Team Gfinity took control of Man City Epsilon’s Elite Series roster for the first game, with the teams changing and Chris and Onset taking control of Fnatic in the second.
Fnatic got off to the best possible start when some beautiful build-up play between Salah, Sócrates and Fred gave Eden Hazard space on the left. The Chelsea man bent a beautiful shot around the keeper and Fnatic were ahead. The Elite Series pros continued to have the better of the first half, and in the build-up to the break, they doubled their advantage. Salah was involved once more as his beautiful corner was nodded home by Laurent Blanc.
Onset and Chris failed to have so much as a shot in the first half, but started the second with greater intent. Some fine passing play meant that they had the more possession, but they were struggling to forge any chances of note. As the half wore on, Fnatic were able to soak up the pressure, and finally their patience paid off as they struck on the break with six minutes left. The ball was intercepted in midfield, allowing Sócrates to thread a great pass through to Salah, who finished beautifully to cap a fantastic performance by the Fnatic pros.
The teams switched around for the second game, with Chris and Onset playing with Fnatic’s Elite Series starting line-up. The switch paid off as they made the perfect start as Salah curled in a sensational shot from the outside of the area in the opening exchanges. Epsilon had the better of the rest of the first half, but couldn’t make the breakthrough. Eventually the pressure told just before halftime, as having conceded a corner through some last-ditch defending, Michael Ballack was able to head home a corner to make it 1-1 going into the break, with Epsilon pleased that their dominant performance hadn’t gone completely to waste.
Another corner then gave Epsilon the lead as the casters failed to deal with a set-piece, giving Ronaldinho the chance to turn quickly on the edge of the box and smash in a wonder-strike. Epsilon were having the better of the match at this point, but a superb passing exchange put Raúl through on goal, and a powerful yet precise finish got Chris and Onset back in the game. The comeback was complete shortly after when an effort from Hazard was only parried into the path of Fabinho, who made no mistake from a tight angle to give them a 3-2 lead.
The stage was set for an almighty finish, and with Epsilon piling forward, Fnatic’s defence buckled in the 89th minute when Mbappé curled the ball home from the edge of the area to level the scores. Sloppy passing let Epsilon in again, and Ronaldinho dazzled with some silky footwork to leave the casters’ defence with no answers to put Epsilon 4-3 up in the third minute of added time to cap off an epic match.
Season 4 Rocket League champions Renault Vitality were in action on Saturday as two of their draftees, Jnr and Ghostfire, teamed up to take on Envy’s Rams and Lofty. The five-game series was one with a difference, as the two teams took each other on in some of Rocket League’s alternative modes, including Hoops and Snow Day.
These different modes required a slight tactical recalibration on the part of both teams, and the audience watched with eager anticipation to see who could adapt best and show off their full array of skills.
Game 1: Soccer (Envy 2-4 Vitality)
The first game was a fast and frenetic match, and Jnr got the scoring underway for Renault Vitality, only for Rams to equalise shortly after for Envy as he placed the ball past the despairing dive of Jnr. The former Unilad man Jnr was then involved in two near misses as the match went on, and finally his persistence paid off with a minute left. A quickfire third from Ghostfire followed to put the game beyond Envy once and for all before Jnr added a fourth late on. Rams pulled one back for Vitality, but it was nothing more than a consolation.
Game 2: Hoops (Envy 2-7 Vitality)
The challenge for the second game was the Hoops game mode, and Vitality adapted quicker to the smaller map thanks to Jnr’s strike within the opening seconds. Rams struck a sensational equaliser shortly after to pull Envy level, but Ghostfire quickly restored Vitality’s lead. Ghostfire’s second extended the lead before Jnr made it four as Vitality dominated. They eventually ran out 7-2 winners, thanks to another from Ghostfire and a brace from Jnr. Lofty’s scored late on, but the game was over as a contest at this point and Vitality took a 2-0 lead in the series.
Game 3: Snow Days (Envy 0-4 Vitality)
The ice and snow took over for game three as the ball was replaced by a hockey puck. With such a new environment to adapt to, it took a little while to break the deadlock. Vitality eventually struck first through Ghostfire to give them a valuable lead.
A second followed shortly after, as Ghostfire took advantage of the icy surroundings to dribble home. Jnr squeezed in a third from a tight angle as Vitality continued their domination from Game 2. Envy steadied things up as the game went on and Rams came close to pulling one back, but there was no denying Vitality. Rams made it 4-0 with 45 seconds left, and the series went to Vitality.
Street Fighter V
Part of honing your Street Fighter skills is about finding a character that suits you by hiding your weaknesses and accentuating your strengths. Pros take such decisions very seriously and will rarely change character. Which is why we decided it would be a bucket load of fun to have them play with characters chosen by their opponents!
Hashtag United and exceL took to the stage for our Street Fighter character mash-up series, with draftees MQS, Naught and Gamachan on the starting roster for Hashtag against the exceL line-up of OneStepLayered, Irissia and ADTerminal. Each player would be able to use their own character for the first three games, but after that, their opponents would be able to choose for them.
Game 1: ADTerminal v Naught
We got underway with ADTerminal and Naught both playing as Urien. ADTerminal got the better start, making light work of Naught with a powerhouse display in the first round. Naught showed more fight in the second round, which looked to be going his way until a flourish from ADTerminal turned things around to take the round for exceL.
Game 2: Irissia v Gamachan
Irissia played as Cammy and Gamachan as Balrog in Game 2. Raw strength won through in Round 1, with Gamachan’s powerful punches breaking down Irissia’s defence. Irissia came out swinging in the second round, and a mistake from Gamachan gave her the chance to take advantage to win the round. An even final round went right down to the wire and ended with Balrog taking the win from an exciting game.
Game 3: OneStepLayered v MQS
OneStepLayered played as Karin with MQS taking F.A.N.G in Game Three. The first round saw MQS dominate; only some fine defensive work from OneStepLayered kept him in the game before MQS finished him off. OneStepLayered came out much stronger in the second round, but MQS soon fought back and finished him off for a 2-0 win.
Game 4: Irissia v MQS
MQS stayed on for the next game, and with the characters switching around, MQS played as Zangief and Irissia played as Dhalsim. The character choice worked against MQS, but it didn’t seem to bother him as he slowly but surely chipped away at Irissia in the first game. She went on the offensive in the second round, but MQS’s sheer strength showed through, and he made short work of his opponent.
Game 5: OneStepLayered v Naught
Naught played with Karin and OneStepLayered was Falke for Game 5. Having failed to impress with his main character, Naught struggled again in the early stages of the first round, but a late fightback meant he took the honours. An even, cagey second round saw Naught eventually take control and he took advantage of a terrible error to claim the 2-0 win.
Game 6: Irissia v Gamachan
Irissia was back for Game 6 and played as Blanka, while Gamachan took on Juri for a rare match-up. It was an even first game, with both players clearly uneasy with their characters, but Irissia adapted quicker and took the win. Gamachan put up an effective defence to claim the victory in the second round, and with momentum behind him, he took the third to complete an excellent comeback.
Game 7: ADTerminal v MQS
For the seventh and final match-up, ADTerminal played as F.A.N.G and MQS returned as Urien. Both players went for it in the first round, with MQS eventually overpowering ADTerminal. The second round found ADTerminal resurgent and taking the win to set up a cagey final round. Both players could have taken the win, but MQS was cannier and emerged victorious.
So as Hashtag ran out comfortable 6-1 winners over exceL, it will be interesting to see if any of their performances caught the eye of the coaches and managers looking to gain a competitive edge heading into Week 5 of the Elite Series.
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