The Sampdoria eSports Cup Pro Edition was the first eSports tournament organised by a Serie A club and dedicated to European clubs only. It was fitting that Sampdoria decided to hold the tournament here at Marassi, where the professionals do battle every weekend. As well as Mattia “Lonewolf” Guarracino, our Blucerchiati representative, also taking part were Sporting’s Rafael Nunes, Ajax’s Koen Weijland and Levante eSports captain Alberto Requena Sempere, nickname “Rekegol”. With four players from four different countries involved, it was like a mini Euros taking place in Genoa.
The players faced off using the Online Friendly mode in FIFA 17, with all players given an overall rating of 85. The tournament was split into two stages, with the initial group stage designed to decide the knock-out match-ups. Let’s take a look back at the group stage. Koen Weijland kicked things off with a win over Mattia Guarracino, before maintaining his 100% record with victories over Rafael Nunes and Rekegol.
Mattia got off to a bad start, but bounced back with wins over Rekegol and then Rafael Nunes. Rafael Nunes began his first international tournament with a bang, beating Rekegol, but then lost his next two games. Rekegol had a tough time of it, failing to secure a single point, but showed real improvement in the semi-finals.
Let’s now take a look at the highlights of the best matches from the tournament, with commentary from Ivan Greco. In the first semi-final between Sporting and Sampdoria, Lonewolf, the home player, took an early lead after Schick burst through the middle and teed up the arriving Amuzie, who fired a great left-footed effort off the post and in. It meant Samp were 1-0 up after ten minutes. Let’s take another look at that bolt from the blue from an unexpected source. Sporting were looking at an uphill battle from the start.
Barreto won the ball back well, Praet and Djuricic exchanged neat passes and then Schick took advantage of a lucky rebound to fire this low shot home for 2-0. The goal spelled the end of Sporting’s resistance and handed Lonewolf a huge win ahead of the return leg. Those away goals had seen Lonewolf take a massive step towards the final. The other semi-final between Levante and Ajax may have seemed like a foregone conclusion, but Rekegol was in the mood from the off and nearly took the lead through Roger early on, but his low shot was too weak to trouble Onana.
With just three minutes on the clock, Levante had shown Ajax they weren’t going to have it all their own way. Ajax got their noses in front five minutes into the second half, Dolberg playing it to Ziyech who turned fantastically to fire home a right-footer and put Ajax ahead. It was a stunning goal from Ajax star Koen Weijland. Levante seemed to be heading for a defeat, with Casadesus putting this late effort straight at Onana, who was positioned well at the near post and made the easy stop. That was that.
In the semi-final second leg between Sporting and Samp, Sporting saw a great chance go begging in the 40th minute. However, they scored from the resultant corner as Bas Dost used all of his height to head home. Sporting still needed another goal to force a play-off, given the 2-0 result in the first leg, but Lonewolf soon equalised through Luis Muriel, who slotted home this rebound on 44 minutes. It was Muriel’s first goal of the Sampdoria eSports Cup and one that all but saw Samp through to the final.
Sporting’s defence could do nothing to keep it out. There was still a long way to go, with Amuzie giving a throw-in away on 55 minutes. Martins crossed in and the ball dropped to Dost, who produced another great finish to secure a brace and put Sporting back into the lead, giving Rafa Nunes renewed hope. All he needed now was one more goal to complete the comeback, but Lonewolf stayed calm and prevented his opponent from having any more chances. In fact, on 58 minutes Muriel and Schick combined well to create a chance for Praet, who fired past Rui Patricio to make it 2-2 and secure Sampdoria’s place in the final. Sporting were a little unlucky, but it was a gutsy performance from Lonewolf.
Despite falling behind, he never gave up and eventually found the crucial equaliser. Sporting had a great chance in the closing stages through Dost, who called Viviano into a spectacular save. Wonderful reactions from the Samp goalkeeper. The other semi-final second leg saw Ajax and Levante go at it again after the 1-0 win for Ajax in the first match. Rekegol was a man possessed in the second leg, Munoz teeing up Roger to put Levante ahead. It meant Levante had levelled the semi-final in the 39th minute of the second leg, having lost the first leg 1-0.
It was a great break to put Levante into the lead. It was a tough moment for Koen Weijland, with Levante – playing with a back five – causing him real trouble. However, the Dutchman showed real calm and managed to pounce on this rebound to equalise through Dolberg on 73 minutes. Making 1-1 with less than 20 minutes to play. Ajax hitting back, just like Sampdoria did in the last game, and booking their ticket to the final. There were three minutes of injury time but not enough for a response.
Ajax won and went through to the final, to play Lonewolf. And now let’s go and see what went down in the third-place playoff, between Levante and Sporting. On 21 minutes Sporting had an effort on goal, with a left-foot strike from Dost. The goalkeeper saved and sent his team on the attack, with Casadesus leading the charge. He produced a beautiful lob which Rui Patricio got a hand to, but he couldn’t stop Levante taking the lead. Levante then had another shot on goal after 27 minutes, but this time Rui Patricio was able to save.
A great stop from the Portuguese keeper. Rekegol kept the pressure on his opponent, producing a great display, wanting to leave the tournament with his head held high. He then made it 2-0, with Casadesus striking yet again. A lovely finish, around the half-hour mark. It appeared a long way back for Rafa Nunes, but things changed with the arrival of Joel Campbell.
A goal did indeed arrive, thanks to William Carvalho, halving the deficit to 2-1 in the 74th minute. At this point, there was still hope for Sporting. A draw would take proceedings to a decisive clash.
On 84 minutes, what can Dost do here? A lovely touch to Campbell. But Abraham is able to clear.
The ball went out for a throw in, but remaining in attacking territory for Sporting. They were pouring forward at this stage. Campbell sent the cross into the box, Castagnos met it and scored! In the 86th minute of the game!
He brought Sporting in level in what was a wonderful game! Then came the last match, which was played with the Golden Goal rule: the first to score, wins! Munoz had a chance to put the game to bed, but it was not over then.
That was a poor clearance from the Sporting keeper. The ball ended up in midfield, then with Schelotto on the right-hand side. He played the ball forward to Pereira, around the 41-minute mark. This was a good chance for Rafa.
Who found the winning goal, through entropay casinos ca! That gave him third sport in the Sampdoria eSports Cup. Levante were beaten, after the Golden Goal. Perhaps Rekegoal’s deserved something more. Levante recently having secured promotion to La Liga. Then at last we got to the final, with Koen Weijland’s Ajax up against the Lonewolf’s Sampdoria team.
Traore shot towards goal after 67 minutes and finished off a devastating counter attack from Ajax. They went ahead when Lonewolf was having perhaps his best period of the game. It had looked like a goal was in the offing for Sampdoria.
Lonewolf made a couple of changes and, with 10 minutes left to play, Schick set up Barreto for the shot. But Onana was equal to it, pulling off a miraculous save. The cross went back in but no Samp player could meet the ball with a header. Was there one last chance perhaps? No.
That was the last of the action. Ajax emerged victorious in the Sampdoria eSports Cup, with Lonewolf defeated 1-0 in the final.