Some weeks ago, the IIHF announced their Esports Fan Championship, that is meant to be a replica of this years cancelled IIHF worlds, but taking place online on EA Sports NHL 20. At this point, the qualifiers for each nation have been held and a participant on both PS4 and Xbox have been chosen for each nation. The teams have been placed into a bracket and will play from a round of 16 onwards, starting May 29th.
At NHLGamer, we're incredibly happy to see a strong community representation in the tournament as 13 (that we know of) out of the total 32 participants have earned their stripes in leagues organised by us. We're especially sending our good luck wishes to the following gamers representing their countries in the tournament:
Some exciting clashes in the round of 16 will obviously be the headline matchup between Canada and USA, but also some of the more non-traditional hockey markets have solid representation. The battle between Germany and Denmark will feature NHLGamers Tim @Timasy Hess and Martin @vibholm10 Vibholm in a heated battle on the PS4 side, whereas Swiss native Sven @Original-SnuS Julmi will go head-to-head with Norwegian Lars Petter @Larsto50 Stø.
We reached out to some of the gamers for comments about the tournament:
Sven @Original-SnuS Julmi, Swiss player on PS4, captain of ZSC Esports
First of all, what does it mean for you personally to represent your country in a historic tournament like this?
- It's an awesome feeling. I went into this tournament without any ambitions whatsoever. Having a versus record of 2-0-0 going in, I definitely wasn't expecting to go all the way in the qualifiers. Now I'm training hard to represent Switzerland to the best of my abilities in the tournament.
A lot of new names are getting a shot at the big stage in this tournament. Do you know the players well and would you like to highlight any underdogs?
- I know a few players from seeing them on the ECL ice. I think a great underdog would be Mirco @Tron1x90 Salvi, who is playing for Italy - Sweden better watch out in the first round! Also I think @PSchibra had a great qualification run for Latvia.
What do you think about the tournament format and did you know your teammate from before?
- I Think it's a great format and highlights the teamwork aspect in hockey. Reto @Haldeem Haldemann was playing on Xbox and the goal was to have two ZSC players represent our country, but Marco came out of the blue and won the finals against Reto on that side. I didn't know him from before but I'm confident in his talents.
What are your thoughts on the tournament format and did you know your teammate from before?
- I really enjoy the format and it's cool that the IIHF was bold enough to bring something new to the competitive community. The thing i dislike a bit is that several top players from PS4 are switching over to Xbox just for the sake of these kinds of tournaments, making the contest less balanced. I didn't know my teammate from before, but from a short discussion we had I understood that he's a quite casual player.
As there's a lot of new exciting names in the tournament, who would you want to highlight with the potential to cause an upset?
- I have to say Czech Republic looks promising and I think they could have a real chance to compete. Also Switzerland has one of the strongest squads in the tournament. If we're looking at exciting players, I'd keep an eye on Sebastian @SebbeLarsen86 Larsen representing Sweden. He's already put his name on the map from performances in Linkoping and Vesa Pompa though. @rottadee for Finland is an exciting name too, he's overcome the likes of @Artuzio and @Hansulinho, which shows that there is a high level of talent there. Finally, I'd point out that the Czech pepcastachurcik is a talented guy with extremely good puck skills that have impressed me.
We're excited about the tournament moving forward and will be following the progress of our community members. More info about the tournament can be found on the IIHF Esports Fan Championship website.