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    The eSHL inaugural season recap

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    It's been an interesting road and it was surely an exciting project to complete the inaugural season of the eSHL together with the SHL, Aftonbladet and Area Academy. The league was announced in early December and we have surely came a long way since that. A total of 159 has been played over the course of 1,5 months. Now with the season in the rearview and all the celebrations out of the way, it's a good time to take a look back at what was accomplished along the way.


    Linkoping_HC.png Linkoping HC
    The eventual champions had an inaugural season to remember. Coming fresh off a European championship run, they added to their trophy case by claiming the beautiful eSHL championship trophy almost two weeks back. To be fair it wasn't much of a surprise that Linkoping was the team to hoist the cup at the end of the day, as they were highly touted championship candidates ever since the season started. The teams right winger Erik @Eki Tammenpää is one of the most recognizable faces in virtual hockey and played a monumental role in the success of his team, but ultimately the factor that won them the trophy was the chemistry built over time. The team especially thanked goaltender Casper @ICappeI Lundgren for his outstanding efforts in both setting up the contract and his stellar play throughout the season. They'll surely have some tougher competition in the seasons going forward, but for now Linkoping goes down in history as the first squad to hoist the cup.

    Photo credit: Elias Gammelgård

    Malmo_Redhawks.png Malmö Redhawks
    Malmo Redhawks recruited a particularly skilled Swedish bunch ahead of the players and added to it with some great Finnish talent, out of which especially Tuukka @FlyerKungen Kuha and Risto @Dominointi Järvi were excellent additions to an already strong roster. We knew ahead of the season what these guys could do, but the timely additions to the crew elevated the level of play a few notches and Malmo really found their stride in the later half of the season as they strung together a record setting 19 victories before Farjestad BK finally succeeded in cracking them in game two of the semifinals. Long-time defensive pairing Johan @Lehmannens Lehmann and Anton @antoniomannen004 Svensander were arguably one of the most balanced duos all season long. A success of a season resulted in a second place finish, which Malmo can be satisfied with.

    Photo credit: Elias Gammelgård

    Farjestad_BK.png  Farjestad BK
    Being one of the first teams to announce their esports affiliation, FBK had a chance to get ahead of the competition and did so by signing one of the strongest Swedish-based teams. Prior to the season the squad stacked up their roster by adding the dominant defensive pairing Kristian-Mikael @Nassustelija Katajisto & Wille @willekunq Juntunen to solidify their opening squad, which turned out to be some of the biggest signings overall during the season. Centerman Christoffer @I-Maise-I Berntsson elevated his level and punched his ticket into the discussion about the very elite players on that particular position. FBK was expected to finish in the top four and did just that.

    Photo credit: Elias Gammelgård

    Leksands_IF.png Leksands IF
    Leksands IF was one of the positive surprises this season. After a very disappointing finish to their ECL 9 campaign in the Elite division, the squad remained virtually unchanged and went back to the drawing board. With the backing forces of a stellar organisation and an accomplished esports personality as their manager, LIF managed to turn the page and found a new level to their play. The tight defense was extremely tough to crack for a multitude of teams over the course of the season and having goalies Kimmo @DUNZA Sunnari and Johan @Rundqviiist Rundqvist come to play at an extremely high level helped LIF a lot. Finishing in the top four is a pleasant surprise as stated.

    Photo credit: Elias Gammelgård

    Lulea_Hockey.png Lulea Hockey
    One of the disappointments of the season can be found in Lulea, who only managed to accomplish a high mid-table finish despite coming off a promising ECL 9 performance and having time to perfect their play with their rather new found construction of players from several previous teams. LHF struggled to find any type of consistency throughout the season and as a result didn't string together any longer win streaks. We saw a lot of rotation in the roster as players even switched positions among themselves. Even signing superstar winger Jere @jergelii Jortama couldn't save LHF from a quarterfinal elimination against Leksands IF.

    Vaxjo_Lakers_new.png Vaxjo Lakers HC
    Vaxjo was also quite early to announce their roster and with that had some time to adjust in their new colors before the season. The team boasted a rather large roster and ended up having a total of nine skaters play at least two games during the season. Performances were rather consistent and as expected, a mid-table finish is what the team managed to accomplish. FBK was a very tough opponent in the quarterfinals, but VLH managed to steal one victory in the series.

    Djurgarden_Hockey.png Djurgarden Hockey
    The current hockey pride of Stockholm finalized their roster a few days before the season. The team mostly consisted of former Miracle-players, so we had an idea of how DIF would match up against the competition in this league. In regards to earlier performances, the team finished somewhere around the expected positions by just about making the playoffs. Some internal differences were rumored throughout the season and might have affected performances to some extent.

    HV71_esports.png HV71
    HV71 had an interesting take on team building, as they had been chipping away at their eSHL-project for quite some time prior to the season. Jönköping native and team captain Daniel @Demski13 Gadd was selected to lead the process and recruit a team consisting of local talents, a feat in which he succeeded rather well. The team pushed into the playoffs and managed to challenge several contenders with their structured defensive play and fast paced counter offense over the course of the season. It'll be interesting to see how the team fares and develops going forward but once again the importance of captain @Demski13 for this team cannot be stressed enough.

    Rogle_BK.png Rogle BK
    Company of Geeks is a long-time virtual hockey franchise and has seen some great success in their time but fallen off the radar a bit in recent years. That is the roster that Rogle BK recruited for their inaugural eSHL push and their team did a decent job when taking into account the circumstances. By no means was Rogle the strongest team around, but not making the playoffs must sting.

    Orebro_Hockey.png Orebro Hockey
    Orebro Hockey signed an interesting mix of rather experienced players to their team. With that, there were some expectations set and the team had a realistic chance of making the playoffs. A playoff spot eventually fell out of reach and the biggest problem of the season was lack of scoring power. A total of nine skaters played a minimum of two games, but five managed to find the net in the form of a goal or two. The team combined for only 41 goals in 22 games and will look to better that in the future.

    Skelleftea_AIK.png Skelleftea AIK
    Skelleftea AIK is another team that decided to go mainly local in their recruiting process and as a result their roster was extremely inexperienced with only a few prior competitive 6's games combined. The beginning didn't look good as the team quickly fell into a losing streak, but eventually managed to overcome Rogle BK for their historical first win. Eventually the season was finished with a total of three wins and an 11th place finish, but the players have gained some valuable experience and rookie player Liam @RookieLIAMOVIC Carlsson won the internal scoring title with over a point per game, which is very promising for the youngster.

    IK_Oskarshamn.png IK Oskarshamn

    A lot of eyebrows were raised when IK Oskarshamn first announced their roster - they had almost no prior experience of competitive 6vs6 NHL gaming and on top of that were one of the last teams to solidify their squad and start practicing. The start was absolutely horrendous as it seemed like team after team put IKO in a body bag on a nightly basis. It took a few weeks, but performances slowly started improving. A pivotal moment was the decision to recruit a few players with more experience at the transfer deadline. @Fancystick and @Halvdan89 handled the defensive responsibilities after the deadline, which gave the team a chance to compete against Skelleftea AIK in their headline matchup at Sportbladet. The clubs first eSHL season wasn't pretty to look at by any means, but rumours are out that development and preparation for the future is already being planned and put into action.

    To cap off the inaugural season, we'd also like to hand out some mentions in form of individual trophies to players that performed in exceptional manner throughout the season. These trophies are unofficial and have been chosen by the eSHL content creation team of yours truly and @l-Furyan-l. Here are your picks for each trophy:

    Most valuable player - The MVP is awarded to a player that performed exceptionally well throughout the season and with those performances played a monumental role in the success of their team.
    Awarded to: Tuukka @FlyerKungen Kuha - Malmo Redhawks
    Honorable mentions: Daniel @Demski13 Gadd - HV71

    Best offensive player Awarded to the most offensively outstanding player of the season.
    Awarded to: Tuukka @FlyerKungen Kuha - Malmo Redhawks
    Honorable mentions: Risto @Dominointi Järvi - Malmo Redhawks, Henrik @Eken45jr Eklund - Malmo Redhawks & Paul @PleeMaker Arontie - Linkoping HC

    Best defensive player - Awarded to the best shut-down player of the season.
    Awarded to: Kristian-Mikael @Nassustelija Katajisto - Farjestad BK
    Honorable mentions: Johan @Lehmannens Lehmann - Malmo Redhawks, Aleksi @loimmu Loimuvirta - Linkoping HC & Jonas @Supremski Söderlund - Leksands IF

    Best goaltender Awarded to the most outstanding goaltender of the season.
    Awarded to: Casper @ICappeI Lundgren - Linkoping HC
    Honorable mentions: Johan @Rundqviiist Rundqvist - Leksands IF

    Thank you all for a successful inaugural season, we're extremely excited about the future holds and will be bringing you some interesting stuff in the coming weeks!

    Photo credit: Elias Gammelgård

    Photo credit: Elias Gammelgård

    Photo credit: Elias Gammelgård

    Photo credit: Elias Gammelgård

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    13 tuntia sitten, FlyerKungen kirjoitti:

    Does anyone have any clue where we can find more pics from this event? There should be plenty of them, right?

    We should be able to release a picture album in the gallery. Right, @Kenu😄

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    Great re-cap and a good read, thanks! Didn't follow the tournament, nor much else for the matter, so it was a very nice way of catching up. Kind of missed the rosters of the teams, seems like every team has changed its name during the past half a year.. :D I'm sure I can find them from somewhere though.

    Looks like it was a good time for everyone, lots of happy faces in those photos. In the end, that's what counts.

    Feels like half my posts these days involve congratulating Eki on winning one thing or another, but here goes again: Congrats Linkoping HC! 🥳

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