Although the ECL season is in the books, this past weekend has still been full of excitement and drama for NHL gaming fans around the world. That's because the NHL GWC is rolling on and this Saturday marked the date for the European Play-In Bracket that determines which gamers are punching their ticket to the regional finals at Viasat studios in Stockholm on May 18th.
The games started Saturday afternoon and although they are something of a grind - the format this year was a single elimination bracket which resulted in the day progressing rather quickly. The single elimination format has been criticised heavily on social media due to the harshness and the nature of the game in its current state - meaning it allows for uncontrollable bounces and unfortunate goals to happen on the regular. Regardless of this, a good player can always create their own luck and at the end of the day we're certainly seeing some top notch gamers grabbing their spot in the regional finals.
Here are the gamers moving through at the end of Saturday:
Saku @Sagee95 Björn, Kristian @kriketski17 Veijola, Risto @Dominointi Järvi and Paul @PleeMaker Arontie.
The defending champion didn't beat around the bush when asked about the NHL GWC format this year: "I don't like the format, you simply need to have more shots at making the biggest tournament of the year than one. One and done isn't the way to do it. It's the same for everyone but at the end of the day think we're going to see some players at the finals who probably wouldn't deserve to be there."
It's great to see a few names making their presence felt, although it means a few established players have to face disappointments. Some of last years regional finalists including @Artuzio, @Darkic01 and @FlyerKungen fell short this time, being eliminated in the earlier stages of the brutal single elimination bracket.
One of the new names included is Saku @Sagee95 Björn, who we reached for some comments about the NHL GWC so far: "There's certainly some positives and negatives about the format this year. I like moving over to HUT in the sense that you're seeing some diversity in the teams which wouldn't be there if it was versus. The single elimination bracket is rough, since one mistake could cost you the whole tournament."
"I don't want to put down my opponents, but I think I had an easy way to the regionals. None of my opponents so far really tested me too much. The upcoming draft is going to be interesting, I'll try to build a team with big bodies and Zdeno Chara is a guy I hope I can secure in my lineup.", Sagee continues.
Joonas @SUPERVIRTA Virta is another new name, who's been one of the fastest growing NHL streamers out there recently: "It feels amazing to qualify for my first bigger tournament. What makes it extra special is sharing those moments with all the people in my stream and getting all the support from there."
The NHL GWC will continue with the Canadian Play-In Bracket next weekend and the US Play-In Bracket the weekend after that, so there's still lots of action to go around before the grand finals.
Remember to tune in and watch the regional finals on May 18th. Who will you be cheering for?