Norway upsets Switzerland, Slovaks edge Latvia 16-15!
by Niklas Aßfalg/Christian Bellinger
The first four playoff games of the 2020 IIHF Esports Fan Championship saw the top teams advance comfortably, capped off with a thriller between Slovakia and Latvia on Friday.
Kazakhstan would have liked to have tripped their big neighbour in the round of the last 16. In the end, however, Russia's entry into the quarter-finals was never seriously threatened. Sergei 'Serg1vratar_vH' Filippov put Askar 'Evgeniy Gavrilov' Yedgebayev in his place 6-2 in the first game. Maksim 'mahoney88' Krinitsyn's 4-1 victory over Dias 'Dias' Imanshapikh gave Russia a comfortable 10-3 lead after the first of two games each between the Xbox and PS4 competitors.
In the final two rematch games, while 'Serg1vratar_vH' tightened things up with a 5-4 upset against 'Evgeniy Gavrilov', but it would be for nothing as 'mahoney88' rolled over ‘Dias’ in a 9-1 victory. Russia beat Kazakhstan 24-8 in the final score and will join the top eight nations.
In the quarter-finals the Russians will meet Norway, who came up big in an 18-10 win over Switzerland. On the PS4 Lars Petter 'Larsto50' Sto managed to get the edge in the first game with a 5-4 win over Sven 'OriginaL-SnuS' Julmi. Daniel 'Bacon' Baekken then padded his countryman’s lead with a 4-1 victory over Marco 'A IM N3 S Y A' Giamboni. In the second leg, 'Larsto50' had a much easier time against 'OriginaL-SnuS', who scored a 5-2 win to help advance Norway to the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, his counterpart 'Bacon' dispelled any doubts when he beat 'A IM N3 S Y A' with a 4-3 win on Xbox.
Finland got it in the first round of the playoffs with Great Britain and did justice to its role as favourite. The defending IIHF Ice Hockey World Champions got out to a comfortable lead and put away the Brits early. Joel 'rottadee' Myllymäki gave the first point in a 5-1 win on PlayStation against Connor 'MartindalexC' Martindale. Erik 'Tilantekija' Tammenpää had even fewer problems with Sean 'Sean' McIntosh on the Microsoft console, with the NHL™ Gaming World Championship of 2018 dominant with 8-2 wins in both games. The 27-6 result means the Finns have firmly established themselves as tournament favourites, and will head to the quarter-finals against either Germany or Denmark.
It was left for Slovakia and Latvia to provide the fireworks in the Day 1 finale of the Round-of-16. Anton 'Fenomen36363' Mesko gave up a close 5-4 defeat in the first PS4 duel against Kristers 'chibra' Bauers. But fellow Slovak Sandra 'Lady Brunette' Demitrová, the only woman in the playoffs, gave her country the advantage beating Juris 'snipencelly8' Lopatko 7-3 on Xbox. With the Slovaks holding a 12-9 lead going into the second leg, 'Fenomen36363' gave up five goals to 'chibra' in a 5-2 loss, tied the overall lead 14-14.
But the last word belonged to Slovakia’s 'Lady Brunette', who defeated 'snipencelly8' 2-1 in the finale to give her country a dramatic 16-15 draw. With the victory, Slovakia will face the winner of the Canada vs United States Round-of-16 game on Saturday.