Breaking down the playoff format
by Christian Bellinger/Alexander Maier
The 16 national champions for the IIHF Esports Fan Championship 2020 have been confirmed, and now it is time to find out which country has the strongest EA Sports™ NHL™ 20 gamer team in the world.
In the national qualifiers, the best NHL™ 20 players among the supporters of the 16 participating countries were determined in 1vs1 mode. Now each country is represented by two national champions: one for the Xbox One console and the other on the PlayStation 4. In order to qualify for the grand final of the IIHF Esports Fan Championship, teams will need to get three playoff wins, the first hurdle being the Round of 16.
The pairs have been set into a tournament bracket and will compete in the classic knockout format. In each round, the qualifiers will play two games against their opponent from their respective console. Thus, a play-off duel between two nations consists of a total of four individual games. The addition of the results will be combined together into an overall result with the number of goals scored being decisive. If the final result is a draw, a special mechanism is used: a Sudden Death Match is started in parallel on both consoles and the Golden Goal decides the outcome of the series.
In order to ensure competitive parity, the team selection in the playoffs is bound to a special rule. The participants are free to decide with which team they want to play with, but each team may only be selected once during the tournament. The exception to the rule is the final, where the participants have a free hand again. This restriction leaves the teams a large tactical leeway.
The playoffs will kick off on Friday at 1pm (UTC) with Russia and Kazakhstan, followed by games between Switzerland vs Norway, Finland vs Great Britain and Slovakia vs Latvia. On Saturday the Round-of-16 concludes with the second half of games between Sweden vs Italy, Czech Republic vs Belarus, Germany vs Denmark and the North American showdown between Canada and the USA will take place.