Kazakhstan and Russia meet in the playoffs
by Christian Bellinger/Alexander Maier
In the knockout phase of the 2020 IIHF Esports Fan Championship, Kazakh representatives Askar 'Evgeniy Gavrilov' Yedgebayev and Dias 'Dias' Imanshapikh will have the chance to unseat their Russian neighbours on the virtual ice this Friday.
It's a tough task, as Russia has always had the upper hand in their last World Championship encounters. Since 2006, the two nations have played each other five times, with Russia claiming five wins and 28:6 goals. And for the virtual Sbornaja, two EA SPORTS™' NHL™ 20 players will be competing for the Red Machine, who already showed outstanding performances against 206 competitors in the national qualifier.
The Russian tournament was a tough one: PlayStation 4 winner Sergei 'Serg1vratar_vH' Filippov had to win seven games. The 21-year-old St. Petersburg native showed all his talent and shone with his previous experience in digital ice hockey. The Xbox One tournament with Maksim 'mahoney88' Krinitsyn as the winner was similarly tough. He had to eliminate six opponents and had to master some hard-fought games. The fact that NHL™ 03 is the 25-year-old's favourite title according to his own statements, speaks for the fact that he also has a wealth of experience. "My goals are always highest, of course the target is being number one country in the world, but I am kinda realist, so for me being top four would be awful result", says Filippov.
At the time of NHL™ 03, Kazakh Xbox representative 'Dias' was not yet involved in ice hockey - at 16 years of age, he is by far the youngest player in this playoff duel. Instead he has a 38-year-old player in Askar 'Evgeniy Gavrilov' Yedgebayev. What the two representatives of the hockey-mad nation can really achieve is difficult to assess at the moment. However, the chance to finally annoy their big Russian neighbour should be motivation enough for the two. "I never thought that I would get to such a big tournament and would represent a huge country, of course, I am very happy and incredibly worried", says Yedgebayev.
In the playoffs, the 16 nations qualified for the cancelled World Championship 2020 will meet in duos. The game is played in a knock-out system, with two games being played on each console. The results of the four games are added together. If a draw is recorded at the end of the game, a Sudden Death extension will be played simultaneously on both consoles with a Golden Goal decision. The game between Russia and Kazakhstan takes place on Friday at 1pm (UTC) and can be followed on the official IIHF Twitch channel, the winner moves on and will face the winner of Switzerland vs. Norway in the quarterfinals.