El Clásico, in the football world has been known for an eternity as the heated bout between the two Spanish giants FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. The two juggernauts have battled through a total of 277 official games since the 1902 Copa de la Coronacion and stand incredibly even in wins and competitive games are tied at 96 wins each. Currently, there's arguably no better rivalry in football - some might say in sports altogether.
Some of you might already know where we're getting with this, and it's something that's been talked about before. The two greats of virtual hockey will be going at it once again as they have paved their way through the multitude of challengers in this years FCL. HAVU Gaming and FILADELPHIA perhaps do not possess the history and social status that their football counterparts do, but comparing the two matchups inside their respective sports isn't completely out of place and has been done before even here at NHLGamer.
To summarize: in the last eight tournaments organized by NHLGamer (not including the differently formatted Summer Cup or the inaugural edition of the SCL where neither team had a chance to participate), FILADELPHIA/Linköping HC have won four and Written In The Stars/HAVU Gaming four – including four finals where they’ve been pitted directly against each other. That’s a near unprecedented dominance not seen on the NHL esports scene since Swedish teams Northern Stars and Unknown were lining up tournament wins in the previous gen (pre-NHL 16) of the game.
The way Linköping and HAVU have made competitive NHL 6v6 gaming a two-horse race in the past 18 months (or NHLs 19 and 20, for those keeping track) almost defies explanation – bringing about comparisons to the famous rivalry in Spanish football league La Liga between standout clubs FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
And wouldn’t you know it?
Whenever these two behemoths of NHL gaming get matched up against each other, especially in the playoffs, you will usually find at least 5-10 comments in the NHLGamer Twitch stream – because let’s face it, their matchups should never not be broadcasted – calling the matchup the “El Clasico of NHL gaming”.
It does have a nice ring to it. And the rivalry is just as fierce.
Above is an excerpt from the ECL 10 Preview by dear friend and occasional colleague Hampus @l-Furyan-l Duvefelt, who put it into beautiful words how dominant HAVU and FILA (then Linköping HC) have been in the past couple of years of NHL gaming.
It is an undeniable fact that both HAVU and FILADELPHIA have dominated the playing field in virtual hockey over the course of the past few years, a reign that you could argue started with the ECL 6 Elite championship for Carlsberg HC and has extended through a multitude of competitive tournaments since. In fact, since the beginning of 2018, these two clubs have clashed 35 times in competitive games, out of which FILADELPHIA in various compositions have won 18 and HAVU during their history have taken home 17. These two teams have gone head-to-head in a total of five times in final series, at the end of which HAVU has hoisted the trophy three times. During these two years, both of these teams have won five trophies in various tournaments.
The last time we saw competitive games between these two teams was in the ECL 10 Elite finals in June, when FILADELPHIA was heading for a surefire victory that HAVU stole from them in a dramatic game seven.
We are without a doubt talking about the most successful teams in virtual hockey history to this point.
TOP SCORER (Playoffs)
Erik @Eki Tammenpää (16+17=33) vs Tuukka @FlyerKungen Kuha (11+21=32)
Casper @ICappeI Lundgren (87.5 SV%, 1 GAA, 6 SO) vs Hannes @Hansulinho Kettunen (82.30 SV%, 1.43 GAA, 2 SO)
Despite quite some time passing since the last time we saw HAVU and FILA take the ice simultaneously, not much has changed for these teams. We are expecting the exact same rosters to go to war and what better way to do so than in a final series once again. Just last weekend, a number of these players played in the SCL finals which could possibly have some effect on the readiness of going into such a high stakes game. Three out of four players that participated are on the FILADELPHIA side, however. That coupled with the fact that HAVU hasn't played an FCL group stage and has at least some time less in game over the last few weeks could also be an impactful factor heading into the weekend.
We all know that the base level of these players is at an extremely high, and in these high stakes series, the winner is usually the one who can raise their ceiling even higher. Seeing the SCL finals last weekend, a player that really impressed was Joel @jtorro1233 Tourunen, who really came into his own and was on a completely different level with puck calmness and possession play. On HAVU's side, the one player that has seen the most action lately is captain Tuukka @FlyerKungen Kuha and as usual there is no doubt whatsoever that this guy wouldn't bring it come the decisive games. HAVU will however need their supporting cast to step up even more if they wish to retain their FCL title. Ilmari @Buantso Lehkonen is still one of the greatest wingers in the game, Risto @Dominointi Järvi is still one of the greatest centers in the game, but will they be able to elevate to championship level once again? The weekend will show who wants it more.
Here's the community vote result for the series:
In the bronze series (BO3) we will see two teams that are constantly improving and closing in on the two finalists - but had to settle for fighting for the bronze this Saturday.
TOP SCORER (Playoffs)
Santeri @indi969 Pendolin (23+14=37) vs Perttu @Beniittto Kemppainen (18+26=44)
Oskari @sibeelius Grönroos (81.63 SV%, 1.80 GAA, 3 SO) vs Niklas @uhNikke Nieminen (81.93 SV%, 1.50 GAA, 1 SO)
Tune in for the finals on Saturday!
The upcoming weekend will be an absolute NHL gaming carnival, with the FCL 1v1 finals coming up on Friday, we'll continue with the El Clásico of virtual hockey on Saturday! Make sure to tell your friends and tune in at twitch.tv/NHLGamer for some quality virtual hockey!