Starting tonight, we've reached the culmination point of the ECL 9 season. It's when the best of the best go at it in a best-of-seven series and eventually we crown a new European Champion. We've got an interesting setup for this one, as quite some time has passed since both HAVU Gaming and Linköping HC qualified for the finals, but due to time constraints and a number of various tournaments clashing for both the players and our NHLGamer staff, it was decided that postponing the finals would make for the best competitive setting and in that way highest possible level of play. That is something we're extremely eager to witness tonight when the puck drops at 20:00 CET.
It's been a long time since the last playoff games in ECL 9 Elite were played (6th of January for HAVU, 5th of January for Linköping), so you can definitely not put too much weight on the teams performances earlier during the season. In general the postponing of the finals gives a bit of an extra twist to this matchup whereas it's unusual to see these long breaks in between tournaments. Although neither team might be in that ECL grind mindset anymore, the incentive here is certainly the biggest share of that 5000€ prize pool.
Group stage record: 27-2-1 (1st)
Quarterfinals: vs Symphony (8) 4-2
Semifinals: vs Luleå Hockey (5) 4-0
The strongest European team based on form across all tournaments recently. Apart from their opponents, LHC has been participating in the eSHL with the exact same roster that will take on HAVU in the ECL Finals starting tonight. Recent performances bode well for Linköping, as they've gone 9-1-0 in their last ten games and are currently at the top of the table by a three point margin. On the ECL side of things, the team also finished strong by sweeping fellow eSHL team Luleå Hockey. However, some questions have been raised whether this team is playing with the passion that we've seen before. Despite pushing from victory to another, the times of supreme reign are gone and this talent packed roster has proved to be human after all. It's not a statement based on poor performance, but based on the somewhat difficult games they've had where the offense hasn't been showing their usual flow and quick wits. Starting tonight, they'll be taking on a dear rival which in their last few meetings has proven to be the better team. Can we se a return to the throne?
Group stage record: 26-2-2 (2nd)
Quarterfinals: vs Miracle (7) 4-0
Semifinals: vs Butterfly Effect (3) 4-3
HAVU Gaming isn't a team that's been in the headlines of the community too much lately and that's simply for the reason that the team has been on a hiatus for the purpose of representing various teams in the eSHL. The forward line has been representing Malmö Redhawks and have absolutely obliterated the opposition in their last two matchups against Växjö Lakers HC and Färjestad BK - as expected. Defensemen @willekunq and @Nassustelija have been the backstops for Färjestad BK, which has been a strong and consistent performer throughout the season and to some extent have the two HAVU players to thank for that. A small cause for worry is the fact that these guys haven't played together too much as of late and goaltender @Hansulinho hasn't strapped on the pads for a good few weeks. These are the true elite of the NHL gaming scene, will they overcome the challenge and return to the ice in their old winning ways?
Last 10 head-to-head games:
ECL 9 Elite: 8.12.2019 Linköping HC - HAVU Gaming 2-1 OT
ECL 9 Elite: 8.12.2019 HAVU Gaming - Linköping HC 2-1 OT
FCL Finals: 3.8.2019 HAVU GAMING - FILADELPHIA 2-0
FCL Finals: 3.8.2019 FILADELPHIA - HAVU Gaming 1-2
FCL Finals: 3.8.2019 HAVU Gaming - FILADELPHIA 1-0
ECL 8 Finals: 3.1.2019 FILADELPHIA - Written In The Stars 2-0
ECL 8 Finals: 3.1.2019 Written In The Stars - FILADELPHIA 4-0
ECL 8 Finals: 3.1.2019 FILADELPHIA - Written In The Stars 0-1
ECL 8 Finals: 3.1.2019 Written In The Stars - FILADELPHIA 2-0
ECL 8 Finals: 3.1.2019 FILADELPHIA - Written In The Stars 0-1 OT
*Written In The Stars is the previous name of HAVU Gaming, whereas FILADELPHIA is the previous name of Linköping HC.
Regardless the outcome, this matchup has certainly become the grand rivalry of the NHL gaming scene. As seen from the list above, these classics don't come around all too often, but most of them have been in the finals, starting with the first ever European 6vs6 LAN at IS Cup 3, which was one for the ages as the teams battled long into the night and FILADELPHIA (now Linköping HC) eventually came out on top.
When/where to watch?
All of the games will be streamed on the NHLGamer Twitch channel. The beloved @Tougie24 and @Cyn will be providing commentary.
Tuesday, February 4th
Games 1-3 starting 20:00 CET
Thursday, February 6th
Games 4-7 starting 20:45 CET