Gaming greats and UEFA Champions League icons provided the thrills at a stellar eChampions League Finals event.
Europe's elite gamers and a clutch of famous former UEFA Champions League players were the main attractions at the Space Arena as the eChampions League Finals took place in Stockholm on Friday, one of the most prestigious events in the EA SPORTS FIFA 22 Global Series.
The main event took place in the 500-seat venue and was buzzing in the build-up to the start of the action just after midday. Matches took place throughout the day with the crucial games taking pride of place on the main stage while other contests were scheduled in a second room containing 20 playing stations.
The anticipation for the semi-finals was palpable and there were surprises during the intense matches that followed. One of the favourites for the competition, FNATIC TEKKZ, lost in the first last-four tie in the upper bracket and then suffered a similar fate against Nicolas99FC after transferring to the lower echelon.
Nicolas99FC was up against it in the two-legged final as well after losing the opening match 3-1 against Mattias, but he roared back in front of a full arena in the decider with a 7-0 triumph to claim glory. As if that success was not reason for celebration enough, the victor then received the trophy from former AC Milan and Real Madrid legend Kaká.
In this event, four competition winners, who received coaching from influencers, were each paired with one of the European football greats in attendance. The semi-finals, which took place off-air, were certainly competitive – little surprise when the pick of the last-four ties pitched Kaká and Ashley Cole against each other. The former Chelsea star progressed to the final, where he claimed the spoils with a 2-1 win live on air and on the main stage against former Real Madrid striker Fernando Morientes, who eliminated Henrik Larsson's team in the semi-final.
"It's my first time at one of these events and it's amazing here. When you see the stage, the reception the players get, the smoke, the screen, it's unbelievable," said Cole. "I used to play a lot so the memory is still there but the quality has gone! When I was a player, certain players used to take the console to the hotels and it was winner stays on so you had to choose your partner wisely. It was always very competitive. I don't look at my stats in the game and take it to heart though – it's just a privilege to be in the game!"