It all came down to this, the final day of the FUT Champions Cup Manchester. Only 16 players remained in the tournament, down from the 128 that walked into the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester, UK on Friday. The group stage provided the first culling, sending half of the competitors to the knockout stage and the other half to an early exit. As the bracket stage got underway, more and more tournament favorites and underdogs fell out of contention. Two unexpected and overlooked players fought hard through the many grueling rounds of this tournament to reach the massive Grand Final.
Since the rounds of 32 and 16 were completed on Saturday, there were just eight players left on each side of the bracket at the beginning of day three. Massive personalities like kurt0411, FaZe Tass, Unilad Gorilla, F2Tekkz, and the previously undefeated ARES Janoz all fell in the initial knockout rounds.
The quarterfinals brought with them another slew of upsets and tight contests, with more high-profile players getting knocked out as the stage progressed. GoalMachine quickly became a fan favorite after his rousing upset of Gorilla in the round of 16, especially because of his less-than-conventional lineup choices, picking players like Mohamed Salah and Romain Alessandrini over the ICONS and other highly-rated players that nearly every other competitor was fielding.
GoalMachine endeared himself to the audience even more after being interviewed on the stream, where his charisma and honest assessment of his progress added to his impressive gameplay. After a tricky defeat of MegaBit in the quarterfinals, the young Canadian's dream run ended in the semifinals as Falcon MSDosary defeated him by a massive 8-2 scoreline. The latter had stayed mostly under the radar this tournament, so this first big win turned some heads.
On the PS4 side, deto and nicolas99fc looked to be the favorites on opposite ends of their bracket after solid group stage and initial knockout results. Deto had a handful of tight results, foreshadowing his eventual defeat by Zizinho23 in the semifinals. Nicolas99fc, on the other hand, was on a different level. The Argentine, who lost in the Barcelona Grand Final, was undefeated through the group stage and the first three knockout rounds. His magical run finally came to an end in the console semifinals, where he narrowly lost 5-4 to German player Eisvogel.
The PS4 final between Eisvogel and Zizinho23 was a tense affair, but the German came out on top with a solid 5-3 win. The Xbox final was a much, much different affair. NRaseck7 seized an early lead, but MSDosary surged back into contention with a handful of goals in quick succession near the end of the first leg. The second leg saw NRaseck7 surge ahead again, only for MSDosary to snatch a goal in extra time and seal the win and a trip to the Grand Final. The normally reserved and quiet player from Saudi Arabia couldn't hold it any longer and jumped up to celebrate at his station, basking in the adoration and cupping his hands behind his ears, begging the crowd for even more of their praise.
The Grand Final, as with Barcelona, was an event worthy of the best in the world. MSDosary and Eisvogel took their places on each side of the stage, a fountain of sparks spouting into the air in front of them as the words “GRAND FINAL” flashed on the massive screen behind them. Eisvogel struck first once the match began, but his opponent wouldn't go down without a fight. The score at the end of the first leg was a deserved 2-2, considering how even most of the game seemed.
But it didn't take long for MSDosary to gain the upper hand for the first time in the final. He scored a few minutes after kickoff and again later in the half, making it 4-2 going into halftime. Two more goals would follow for MSDosary, making it 6-4 on aggregate and putting the game out of reach for his German opponent.
Overwhelmed at his success, MSDosary admitted after being presented with the trophy that he had missed succeeding at the highest level. “It's been a year-and-a-half, and I'm thirsty.” He also noted that he was excited at the opportunity to reaffirm his quality and defend his title when he heads to the Global Series Playoffs this summer. “It also gave me a lot of trust in myself, and that my play is tight.”
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