The ECL 9 Pro season is in the books with the last games in the finals having been played at the end of January. At the end of the line we got to see arguably the most talent packed final series ever on our second highest tier of competition. Both Delusion and Vesa Pompa HC consists players possessing tremendous personal skill. Both teams have also seen previous success, as Vesa Pompa are the reigning SCL champions and Delusion recently paved their way into the finals (and almost won!) of IS Cup 4. We've decided to take a closer look back at the final series between these two teams.
Here's the road to the finals for both teams:
Group stage record: 29-0-1 (1st) Group stage record: 26-2-2 (2nd)
Round 1: vs Pata Hellalla (8) 4-0 Round 1: vs ZSC Lions (8) 4-0
Quarterfinals: vs Black Horse (8) 4-0 Quarterfinals: vs Reality Check (7) 4-2
Semifinals: vs GHETTO FIREBIRDS (4) 4-1 Semifinals: vs Gotham Knights (3) 4-3
Vesa Pompa HC had two tough series against both Reality Check and Gotham Knights. On the other side of the finals, Delusion had easier series in the first two rounds but somewhat tougher in the semifinals against the ever so strong GHETTO FIREBIRDS. The main question before the finals was which one of these teams were in better form, since Vesa Pompa had truly been battle tested whereas Delusion has been able to cruise through the season quite casually - granted this might be due to their overpowering skill compared to their competition.
Games 1 & 2 - Tuesday, 28th of January, 2020
Game 1 - 4-1 Delusion W
The first period was a rather tight ordeal but eventually Delusion led 1-0. In the second period Delusion was the more dominant part and with that widened their lead to 1-3 even though Vesa Pompa HC managed to score a lone goal. Throughout the remainder of the game, we did not see a comeback from the Swedes and Delusion takes game 1 in a convincing fashion.
Game 2 - 3-4 Vesa Pompa HC W
The second game of the series was certainly an outstanding bounce back by Vesa Pompa after getting embarrassed a bit to start the series. They were determined to even up the score and did so in a shootout. Delusion took a quick lead but the skilled Swedes countered with two of their own. All in all, the first night was a great indicator of the kind of action we were to see throughout the rest of the series.
Games 3-6 - Wednesday, 29th of January, 2020
Game 3 - 5-1 Delusion W
In game three, Delusion scores two nearly identical goals at the end of the first period - @Beniittto finds a breakaway opportunity twice and tickles twine with a great backhand shot on both chances. The second period was no different, but Delusion only netted one goal. We finish with an equally dominant third and chalk up another victory for the Finnish team. Delusion was simply the more efficient team and took advantage of the momentum in the game.
Game 4 - 3-4 OT Vesa Pompa HC W
We see a very similar storyline to the second game in the series, where Delusion opens the scoring, but Vesa Pompa quickly manages to gather themselves and get back in the game, this time with three quick unanswered markers. Once again, Delusion mounted a comeback and we entered overtime, in which Vesa Pompa's Finnish star @Nampa77 steps up and becomes the hero that ties up the series.
Game 5 - 2-0 Delusion W
To our surprise, the fifth game of the series was the one game where strict defensive play and patience finally was the key. The score was kept low due to the high stakes of the game - the winner would be merely one win away from the title. Delusion is the only team to get some scoring going, as they manage to net two whereas Vesa Pompa isn't as effective and gets shut down completely by a stellar defensive effort and strong play by @uhNikke in net for Delusion.
Game 6 - 4-2 Delusion W
Delusion had the series in a stranglehold and therefore Vesa Pompa needed their best game of the series in order to keep the games going. It has definitely not been a matter of playing bad for the Swedes, but Delusion is simply such a difficult team to beat. The major difference between the two teams has been capitalising on scoring opportunities.Once again, fans are treated to a defensive battle in which Delusion finds the back of the net twice until Vesa Pompa got their first marker. We saw some drama as Delusion had an opportunity to close out the series with a penalty shot by @Joukki at the end of the second period, but @Thunborg5 in net for Vesa Pompa draws the longer straw this time. Eventually, Delusion finds a way to stay ahead and finishes the game with a victory - we're ready to crown a new champion!
The entire series was a very exciting bout between two tremendously skilled teams. Personally, I thought the play was very tight at even strength and the series could have gone either way was it not for the deadly efficiency that Delusion had in their scoring chances. Vesa Pompa put forth a great challenge to the eventual champions, but in the later games of the series a difference was evident and Delusion is a rightful champion of ECL 9 Pro.