Tre Kronor versus TriColori
by Christian Bellinger/Alexander Maier
For the Swedish EA Sports™ NHL™ community, nothing but a championship will do. But to get to the finals of the 2020 IIHF Esports Fan Championship, Tre Korono will first need to get past Team Italy on the virtual ice.
At the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, if you take a look at matchup history between Italy and Sweden, the balance of power could hardly be clearer: in their last five games Sweden has won 8:0, 8:1, 5:1, 4:0 and 7:1. But on the Esports scene, anything can happen.
The two Swedish qualifiers are Henrik 'eken45jr' Eklund and Sebastian 'SebbeLarsen86' Larsen have the potential to meet these expectations.
'eken45jr' from Swedish champion Vesa Pompa HC, who also reached the Grand Final at NHL™ Gaming World Championship 2020 as the second best European on Xbox One, prevailed in the national qualifier. 'SebbeLarsen86' also has a wealth of Esports experience: The 20-year-old is competing for the reigning European champion Linköping HC Esport and left 84 competitors behind him on his way through the PlayStation 4 qualifier - a highly dangerous duo. "It’s always a huge honor to represent your own country and to do it in this tournament is really cool", says Eklund.
But also the Italian Mirco 'Tron1x90' Salvi has been active for the Swiss club ZSC Lions in Esports for quite some time. He represents his home country after a dominant performance in the PlayStation 4 qualifiers. The southern European duo is completed by Xbox expert Riccardo 'Tombrick 091' Tombolato, who scored 20 goals in three games in a national comparison. "As an outsider, it will be very hard to compete with other world-class teams like Finland, USA or Canada. My personal goal is to pass at least the first round," says Salvi.
The Round of 16 duel involves two individual games on each console, the combined results of the four matches make up the overall winner. If the final score is a draw, the last two games will go into a simultaneous Sudden Death, which will be decided by a Golden Goal. While in the qualifiers the players still had to play with their respective national teams, in the playoffs there is free team selection. However, participants may only use each team once, which allows for various tactical variations. The puck drop will take place on Saturday at 10am (UTC) and can be followed on the official IIHF Twitch channel, the winner will advance to the quarter finals against Czech Republic or Belarus.