Sydney FC's Samer Elbadar crowned E-League Champion after string of shocks: Grand Final wrap
Sydney FC's Samer Elbadar is the inaugural E-League Champion after saving a gold-standard performance for a one-sided Grand Final triumph over Josh Wood.
One half of the team that led the Sky Blues to top spot after nine rounds of the regular season, Elbadar proved his individual quality by navigating through Thursday's arduous knockout competition to remain the last man standing.
He and Wood were both considered outsiders to reach the decider, but their respective club team-mates Mark Brijeski and Marcus Gomes were both shocked in big boilovers befitting the unpredictable nature of the competition.
That left Elbadar to triumphantly claim Grand Final glory over two legs and book a place at the FIFA 18 Global Series Play-Off Event, which serves as a qualifier for the FIFA eWorld Cup.
E-LEAGUE GRAND FINAL
Josh 'Joshingwood' Wood 1-6 Samer 'Samer96_' Elbadar
- Samer Elbadar was simply too good for Josh Wood over the two legs incorporating both PS4 and Xbox consoles, securing Grand Final success in the manner deserving of an E-League Champion.
PS4: Josh 'Joshingwood' Wood 1-2 Samer 'Samer96_' Elbadar
In the initial PS4 leg, Elbadar missed a late penalty but still secured a valuable 2-1 advantage.
The Sydney FC representative took the lead on his unpreferred console, slicing through the heart of defence and finding the back of the net with a somewhat fortunate finish.
There was nothing uncertain about his second, though, as a pass into Neymar's feet increased the margin.
Wood gambled on a more attacking shape and reaped the rewards when he halved the deficit with just under 15 minutes to play.
And he kept the contest alive through a superb double save from a late penalty leading into the Xbox leg.
Xbox: Samer 'Samer96_' Elbadar 4-0 Josh 'Joshingwood' Wood
Back at home on Xbox, Elbadar finished the job in fitting fashion, storming to a celebratory 4-0 win.
The trophy swung irretrievably away from Wood in a destructive first 30 minutes that saw him concede twice.
It was party time from there, Elbadar adding a further two after the interval in a virtual victory lap.
CONSOLE GRAND FINALS
- In reaching the overall Grand Final, Elbadar and Wood both upset the favourites of their respective consoles as Marcus Gomes and Mark Brijeski missed out.
Xbox: Samer 'Samer96_' Elbadar 2-1 Marcus 'SoccerStar00777' Gomes
Samer Elbadar's season of shocks continued when he struck right at the death to complete a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Marcus Gomes.
After a chess match of a first half finished scoreless, the first move was made when Gomes clinically finished across the goalkeeper from a narrow angle.
But his lead soon disappeared and, in the very final seconds of stoppage time, Elbadar produced a brilliant Berba spin and low driven finish to stun the competition's pre-season favourite.
PS4: Mark 'xMarkoHD' Brijeski 1-2 Josh 'Joshingwood' Wood
On PS4, Josh Wood pulled off the seemingly impossible as he derailed Mark Brijeski's unbeaten campaign in a last-gasp 2-1 extra-time victory.
Brijeski had looked like he was on his way to the decider when he broke the deadlock midway through the first half.
But, after an incredible goal-line block from Paolo Maldini somehow denied Wood a certain equaliser after half-time, the City competitor remained on the front foot to restore parity through a composed Cristiano Ronaldo finish.
The tension continued to rise with Wood surviving a late scare to reach extra-time before he shattered all expectations two minutes shy of shootout, finding space in the penalty area and driving the decisive strike through the goalkeeper.
- Jamie O'Doherty and Rick Tran were among the casualties in the Semi Finals, which saw four players progress to the Console Grand Finals.
Xbox: Jamie 'FUTWIZ Jamie' O'Doherty 2-3 Samer 'Samer96_' Elbadar
The Semi Finals began on a typically tense note as Samer Elbadar shaded Jamie O'Doherty 3-2 in extra-time.
Elbadar was forced to recover from an early deficit and did it well as he established a 2-1 lead by the half-hour, only for O'Doherty to grab a scrappy equaliser of his own with 15 minutes play.
There was only heartbreak ahead for the Adelaide United man ahead though, Elbadar coolly slotting in a byline cut-back to settle a tight contest five minutes prior to penalties.
Xbox: Matthew 'StrawHat Camels' Camilleri 1-3 Marcus 'SoccerStar00777' Gomes
Marcus Gomes notched his second 3-1 win of the day with a clinical performance against Matthew Camilleri.
Gomes broke the shackles with a bullet from beyond the box and well-taken penalty in the 10 minutes either side of half-time.
Camilleri clawed his way back into the match from the resultant kick-off, but a third soon after for Gomes meant there was no real sniff of an upset.
PS4: Mark 'xMarkoHD' Brijeski 2-1 Rick 'RDOUBLETT' Tran
Mark Brijeski claimed Sydney Derby honours by coming from behind to see off Rick Tran 2-1 in the first PS4 Semi Final.
A big shock looked possible when Tran won and converted an early penalty, before Brijeski regathered his composure to carve out a classy equaliser courtesy of a backheel assist.
And the Sky Blues star was in for what proved to be the winner on the half-hour, leading Tran's defence a merry dance before side-footing calmly into the bottom far corner.
PS4: Peter 'saisanas' Saisanas 2-3 Josh 'Joshingwood' Wood
Josh Wood wiped out two deficits before an extra-time penalty gave him a rollercoaster 3-2 win over Peter Saisanas.
Saisanas carried on his Quarter Final form to twice lead during the first half, only for a persistent Wood to peg him back on both occasions.
The Melbourne City man then went ahead for the first time with an intelligent free-kick, before Saisanas joined the role reversal by burying a leveller that sent the match into extra-time.
Just as it seemed penalties would be needed to separate the pair, Wood had a player bundled over in the box and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot to leave Saisanas with a gut-wrenching exit.
There was plenty of drama prior to the Semi Finals, too, with Peter Saisanas defying a numerical disadvantage to beat the heavily-fancied Kiran 'KyrenFIFA' Gupta 3-2, while Josh Wood outclassed Christian 'Fweshest' Bartolilo to proceed 3-1.
Also on PS4, Rick 'RDOUBLETT' Tran survived a three-goal fightback from Bohdan 'BLfifa' Ling to notch a breathless 4-3 victory.
However, Tran's team-mate Joseph 'OhNoAGoat' Nassar suffered an early exit in a 3-2 defeat to Jamie O'Doherty.
The other Quarter Finals on Xbox saw Mitch Austin fall short in a 3-2 loss at the hands Samer Elbadar, while Matthew Camilleri and Marcus Gomes advanced with 5-3 and 3-1 victories over David 'HighFly357' Cook and James 'iCripsy' Williams respectively.
At the start of the day, notable highlights included Mitch Austin notching his first ever E-League victory by beating Dane 'Bossierhickory8' Crow 5-2.
An absolute thriller in the other Xbox match saw Cripsy dramatically progress past Justin 'justmanutd12' Josevski on penalties, the pair having finished all square at 3-3 after extra-time.
Meanwhile, on PS4, Bohdan 'BLfifa' Ling upset the previously in-form Mouad Zwed, coming from two down to pile on four answered goals and prevail 4-3.
He was joined in clearing the first hurdle by Christian 'Fweshest' Bartolilo, who edged Dino 'ol_Mate_' Flocco 2-1.