The final day of the FIFA 18 Global Series Xbox Playoffs saw the final 16 competitors get whittled down through the bracket until just one winner remained. Even though they had all qualified for the FIFA eWorld Cup Grand Final, the competitors were battling for higher seeding going into London and a larger slice of the prize pool. The bracket had all the drama we've come to expect from this part of the tournament format: favorites went down, surprise contenders emerged, and the competition was as fierce as ever.
As the 16 best Xbox players in the world faced off, a few results came as a shock to fans and commentators. The final MLS pro in the tournament, Sporting KC's Alekzandur, squeaked by Italian Fabio Denuzzo to stay alive. FaZe Gorilla continued his dominant streak by knocking out Canada's GoalMachine21, as did Rogue MSDossary and his 10-3 destruction of Hashtag DreamR.
This is when things started to get really interesting. With the players whittled down to just eight, some of the superstars were bound to go down.
SKC Alekzandur's fairytale run finally came to an end, when the American was soundly defeated by German FIFA mainstay MegaBit. Gorilla had a tight matchup with the other German in the quarterfinals, NRaseck7, and barely emerged with a 3-2 win.
The other two results were nothing short of utterly shocking. Kurt0411, who looked like he just might back up his “best in the world” claims, received a massive 10-4 defeat at the hands of Ajax Dani. French competitor Rafsou, who had quietly racked up a solid tournament going into this round (including a Round of 32 defeat of F2TekKz), earned probably the most surprising result of the entire day: a 6-4 win over MSDossary. The Manchester champion almost came back multiple times, but back-to-back wins weren't to be in Amsterdam.
Four competitors left, providing two nail-biting matches that would determine who would take the stage in the Xbox final. The first match between Ajax Dani and MegaBit stayed close for a while, but the final score showcased the reality of the result. MegaBit handed hometown player Dani an 8-3 aggregate loss, putting a German in the final of a FIFA 18 Global Series event for the first time this season.
The other semifinal was a truly tight affair and probably one of the greatest competitive FIFA matches of the season. Rafsou, who had been leaving superstar players in his wake all week, took on FaZe Gorilla, who was starting to look like he might be ready to prove himself at the highest level once again. But only one narrative could continue after this match. Gorilla fought hard through both legs and never looked truly out of the game, but Rafsou's incessant attack proved to be too much. The French phenomenon earned his 6-4 victory, marching into the final in style.
This was it, what began with 64 of the best Xbox One players in the world had been reduced to the top two. Rafsou sliced and diced his way through favorite after favorite on the way to the top. MegaBit, who, like his fellow German professionals, had come close to glory before but fell short, efficiently dispatched everyone in his path. The final itself had about as many ups and downs as the rest of the tournament, with both players putting everything they had into it.
Things began in fairly even fashion as the first half of the first leg ended scoreless, though both players looked dangerous at times. It was MegaBit who struck first in the second half, thanks to a silly mistake by Rafsou. He gave up a penalty just after the break, and MegaBit used his ICON Ronaldo to easily dispatch the spot kick. MegaBit grabbed another goal before Rafsou made a quick comeback and tied it up 2-2 with a few minutes to go. But the German showed off his efficient style yet again, snatching a goal and the lead right before the first leg ended.
Rafsou tried to gain equal footing again as the second leg began, but MegaBit pushed the scoreline even further out of his opponent's reach by scoring two goals within the first 30 minutes of game time. Just before halftime, Rafsou grabbed two goals to stay in it with a 5-4 scoreline and 45 minutes of game time to go.
As viewers around the world and an enthusiastic crowd in Amsterdam watched intently, the two Xbox players left faced off for their last chance at the top prize. Despite staying even for the opening minutes, MegaBit struck yet again to put a two-goal cushion between himself and Rafsou. As the clock counted down in the last ten minutes, Rafsou managed to grab himself a goal and reduce the lead to a single goal. But as he pushed his team up the pitch to try and earn an equalizer, his tactics left him vulnerable to MegaBit's dangerous counterattack. The German caught Rafsou's defenders out of position, and again his ICON Ronaldo broke free and slipped the ball into the net with only injury time to go, putting the game out of his opponent's reach for good.
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