If there is something we have learned throughout the FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Series is to expect the unexpected. As the top 32 competitors in the world gathered in Berlin to determine the best FIFA player in the world in a two-day tournament, we saw plenty of drama, great goals, and a few surprises along the way.
Here are five things you must know about day one of the Ultimate Team Championship:
1. There are no friends in FIFA
The group stage provided two matches that pitted eSports teammates against each other. In the Xbox One division it was Paris Saint-Germain eSports players Rafael Salles “PSG Rafifa13” Leite Fortes and Lucas “PSG Daxe” Cuillerier going at each other in the first match of the competition. The PlayStation 4 Division saw VFL Wolfsburg teammates Timo “TimoX” Siep and Benedikt “Salz0r” Saltzer drawn together in Group 8.
Questions about any of these competitors going easy on each other were quickly crushed as PSG Daxe established his authority emphatically against fan favourite PSG Rafifa13 with a 5-0 win while TimoX defeated Salz0r by a score of 4 -1.
They may be teammates and friends but these players know what is on the line and they are not taking any chances.
2. European Domination
The European competitors exercised dominance in the group stage. Out of the sixteen competitors who made the knockout round, a total of thirteen are European native. Only Brazilians Rafael Salles “PSG Rafifa13” Leite Fortes, Lucas "LucasRep98" Da Costa and Reinhard “rein10” Krause from Mexico were able to qualify out of the group stage.
3. Surprising Eliminations
Like we have seen in the Regional Finals, some of the competitors who were considered favourites to lift the trophy in Berlin were eliminated in the group stages of the tournament,sending shockwaves across the FIFA community.
Three Xbox One Regional Champions were unable to progress out of the group stage. Khalid “ThE RoYaL” Aloufi, his Saudi compatriot Aldossary “MSdossary7” Mossad and Giuseppe “xGUASTELLAx” Guastella all lifted the trophy in their respective Regional Finals but were sent packing early.
A similar situation occurred in the PlayStation 4 Division where European Regional Champion Daniele “Prinsipe” Paolucci, alongside Grand Finalists Abdulaziz “MrD0ne” Alshehri, Christopher “NYC_Chris” Holly and Shun “fifantomCR” Okabe had their competition end earlier than expected.
This shows the incredibly high quality of talent displayed in Berlin, where even when you are one of the best, it is not quite enough.
4. Dark Horses
Many of the players that arrived in Berlin this week carried themselves as the favourites heading into the Ultimate Team Championship Series Grand Finale and for good reason. These are the best of the best, and if they didn't believe they could win this tournament, what's the point of turning up in the first place?
But not everyone wore their bravado on their sleeves. As he got ready to take his player profile image the day before the tournament, Shaun 'Shellzz' Springette was candid. The London native considered that getting out of the group stage in Berlin would be a massive achievement in his young competitive career, anything beyond that, would be a bonus.
Springette surprised even himself, advancing all the way to the Upper Bracket Semifinal where he will face Johann “Maniika” Simon tomorrow.
Another dark horse that emerged from the pack was Johann “Maniika” Simon. After finishing third in the PlayStation 4 division in Madrid, Simon was not considered a favourite to make a deep run in Berlin. Expect the unexpected is the old adage, and that's what happened for Simon, who was calm and comfortable during his run to the upper bracket semifinal.
5. Tass Hits A Rock In The Road
There was a bullseye on his back following a scintillating performance at the Paris Regional Final in Season 1, but that didn't faze Season 1 European Regional Champion Tassal “Hashtag Tass” Rushan early on in Berlin.
The Hashtag United man topped his group in the Xbox One division, exhibiting the strong defensive play and clinical finishing that made him such a force in France. In Berlin, against the best FIFA players in the world it was more of the same.
Rushan defeated Rafael Salles “PSG Rafifa13” Leite Fortes 2-1 in a round of 16 knockout match that could have easily been the divisional final. But adversity struck late, with France's Corentin “Vitality_RocKyy” Chevrey beating the Englishman 2-1. Tass would eventually be knocked out of the tournament by Marcel “Marlut” Lutz.
Relive all the action of the FIFA 17 Berlin Ultimate Team Championship with our extended coverage at FUTChampions.com