esports

Final boss

CJ was in Stockholm for the eChampions League finals, front and centre to witness the sights, the sounds and the crowning of a new champion

WORDS Philip O'Connor

The Space Arena. To the uninitiated, it might sound like somewhere that hosts futuristic gladiatorial duels. And to be fair, once brought up to speed, you might take heart from having not been too far wide of the mark: it was the venue for the grand finals of the 2021/22 eChampions League.

The hi-tech amphitheatre in the heart of the Swedish capital has been purpose-built for competitive gaming. Once the presentations were over and the dry ice had cleared, it was down to business: players made their way up the stairs and onto the shining stage, ready to take a seat at their machines and go head to head. The setting was an illustration of just how far EA SPORTS FIFA has come since it launched in 1993, when it was the preserve of people’s bedrooms; this is, after all, one of the most prestigious tournaments of the EA SPORTS FIFA 22 Global Series.

Winner Nicolás Villalba (top); runner- up Matías Bonanno (above, on left)

With the whole of this event streaming live via Twitch, TikTok and YouTube, as well as several UEFA media partners, it was a slick production. Nicolás ‘Nicolas99fc’ Villalba was one of the first to step up, as he began his route to the final with a 5-4 win over German competitor Umut (he then beat pre-tournament favourite Tekkz in the semi-final). A hushed silence fell over the invited audience during every game but, like any football fans, they cheered as the goals rattled in. 

The excitement levels went up a notch when Kaká, Ashley Cole, Fernando Morientes and local favourite Henrik Larsson turned up. They were there as guests of UEFA, EA SPORTS and PlayStation, and there was some friendly ribbing as they compared icon cards. When Larsson saw that Morientes had been given more points for his physicality he said, “I'll let them know I’m not happy!”

The Space Arena. To the uninitiated, it might sound like somewhere that hosts futuristic gladiatorial duels. And to be fair, once brought up to speed, you might take heart from having not been too far wide of the mark: it was the venue for the grand finals of the 2021/22 eChampions League.

The hi-tech amphitheatre in the heart of the Swedish capital has been purpose-built for competitive gaming. Once the presentations were over and the dry ice had cleared, it was down to business: players made their way up the stairs and onto the shining stage, ready to take a seat at their machines and go head to head. The setting was an illustration of just how far EA SPORTS FIFA has come since it launched in 1993, when it was the preserve of people’s bedrooms; this is, after all, one of the most prestigious tournaments of the EA SPORTS FIFA 22 Global Series.

Winner Nicolás Villalba (top); runner- up Matías Bonanno (above, on left)

With the whole of this event streaming live via Twitch, TikTok and YouTube, as well as several UEFA media partners, it was a slick production. Nicolás ‘Nicolas99fc’ Villalba was one of the first to step up, as he began his route to the final with a 5-4 win over German competitor Umut (he then beat pre-tournament favourite Tekkz in the semi-final). A hushed silence fell over the invited audience during every game but, like any football fans, they cheered as the goals rattled in. 

The excitement levels went up a notch when Kaká, Ashley Cole, Fernando Morientes and local favourite Henrik Larsson turned up. They were there as guests of UEFA, EA SPORTS and PlayStation, and there was some friendly ribbing as they compared icon cards. When Larsson saw that Morientes had been given more points for his physicality he said, “I'll let them know I’m not happy!”

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

The four Champions League winners engaged in a special mini-tournament presented by PlayStation. Morientes defeated Larsson, with the latter not entirely surprised: “I haven't played the game since my son Jordan was about 13 – he beat me.” Cole was the other finalist, having beaten Kaká. 

Cole, who won 2-1 in the final, said he wouldn’t mind if his son decided to go down the gaming route. “Whatever makes him happy. To be able to go and watch him fulfil a dream on a grass pitch would be amazing, but if this is the next stage then it’s fine. If he came to events like this it’d be amazing.” 

With that, Cole was off to the commentary booth to provide analysis on the decider between fellow Argentines Nicolas99fc and Matías Bonanno (AKA MatiasBonanno99). The crowd packed in for the grand final, eyes glued to the many screens in the arena. They watched MatiasBonanno99 win the first two legs to force a winner-takes-all showdown, but Nicolas99fc roared to a 7-2 victory to claim the crown and almost €75,000 in prize money. 

Nicolas99fc accepted the trophy from Kaká, as silver streamers fell, sparkling fireworks lit up the room and the crowd cheered. “I was using the Real Madrid kit in the game and, like them, I never gave up,” said Nicolas99fc, who followed up with some impressive understatement. “We know how special the Champions League is in real life, so this trophy is really nice.”

The Space Arena. To the uninitiated, it might sound like somewhere that hosts futuristic gladiatorial duels. And to be fair, once brought up to speed, you might take heart from having not been too far wide of the mark: it was the venue for the grand finals of the 2021/22 eChampions League.

The hi-tech amphitheatre in the heart of the Swedish capital has been purpose-built for competitive gaming. Once the presentations were over and the dry ice had cleared, it was down to business: players made their way up the stairs and onto the shining stage, ready to take a seat at their machines and go head to head. The setting was an illustration of just how far EA SPORTS FIFA has come since it launched in 1993, when it was the preserve of people’s bedrooms; this is, after all, one of the most prestigious tournaments of the EA SPORTS FIFA 22 Global Series.

Winner Nicolás Villalba (top); runner- up Matías Bonanno (above, on left)

With the whole of this event streaming live via Twitch, TikTok and YouTube, as well as several UEFA media partners, it was a slick production. Nicolás ‘Nicolas99fc’ Villalba was one of the first to step up, as he began his route to the final with a 5-4 win over German competitor Umut (he then beat pre-tournament favourite Tekkz in the semi-final). A hushed silence fell over the invited audience during every game but, like any football fans, they cheered as the goals rattled in. 

The excitement levels went up a notch when Kaká, Ashley Cole, Fernando Morientes and local favourite Henrik Larsson turned up. They were there as guests of UEFA, EA SPORTS and PlayStation, and there was some friendly ribbing as they compared icon cards. When Larsson saw that Morientes had been given more points for his physicality he said, “I'll let them know I’m not happy!”

Final boss
esports

Final boss

CJ was in Stockholm for the eChampions League finals, front and centre to witness the sights, the sounds and the crowning of a new champion

WORDS Philip O'Connor

The Space Arena. To the uninitiated, it might sound like somewhere that hosts futuristic gladiatorial duels. And to be fair, once brought up to speed, you might take heart from having not been too far wide of the mark: it was the venue for the grand finals of the 2021/22 eChampions League.

The hi-tech amphitheatre in the heart of the Swedish capital has been purpose-built for competitive gaming. Once the presentations were over and the dry ice had cleared, it was down to business: players made their way up the stairs and onto the shining stage, ready to take a seat at their machines and go head to head. The setting was an illustration of just how far EA SPORTS FIFA has come since it launched in 1993, when it was the preserve of people’s bedrooms; this is, after all, one of the most prestigious tournaments of the EA SPORTS FIFA 22 Global Series.

Winner Nicolás Villalba (top); runner- up Matías Bonanno (above, on left)

With the whole of this event streaming live via Twitch, TikTok and YouTube, as well as several UEFA media partners, it was a slick production. Nicolás ‘Nicolas99fc’ Villalba was one of the first to step up, as he began his route to the final with a 5-4 win over German competitor Umut (he then beat pre-tournament favourite Tekkz in the semi-final). A hushed silence fell over the invited audience during every game but, like any football fans, they cheered as the goals rattled in. 

The excitement levels went up a notch when Kaká, Ashley Cole, Fernando Morientes and local favourite Henrik Larsson turned up. They were there as guests of UEFA, EA SPORTS and PlayStation, and there was some friendly ribbing as they compared icon cards. When Larsson saw that Morientes had been given more points for his physicality he said, “I'll let them know I’m not happy!”

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

The Space Arena. To the uninitiated, it might sound like somewhere that hosts futuristic gladiatorial duels. And to be fair, once brought up to speed, you might take heart from having not been too far wide of the mark: it was the venue for the grand finals of the 2021/22 eChampions League.

The hi-tech amphitheatre in the heart of the Swedish capital has been purpose-built for competitive gaming. Once the presentations were over and the dry ice had cleared, it was down to business: players made their way up the stairs and onto the shining stage, ready to take a seat at their machines and go head to head. The setting was an illustration of just how far EA SPORTS FIFA has come since it launched in 1993, when it was the preserve of people’s bedrooms; this is, after all, one of the most prestigious tournaments of the EA SPORTS FIFA 22 Global Series.

Winner Nicolás Villalba (top); runner- up Matías Bonanno (above, on left)

With the whole of this event streaming live via Twitch, TikTok and YouTube, as well as several UEFA media partners, it was a slick production. Nicolás ‘Nicolas99fc’ Villalba was one of the first to step up, as he began his route to the final with a 5-4 win over German competitor Umut (he then beat pre-tournament favourite Tekkz in the semi-final). A hushed silence fell over the invited audience during every game but, like any football fans, they cheered as the goals rattled in. 

The excitement levels went up a notch when Kaká, Ashley Cole, Fernando Morientes and local favourite Henrik Larsson turned up. They were there as guests of UEFA, EA SPORTS and PlayStation, and there was some friendly ribbing as they compared icon cards. When Larsson saw that Morientes had been given more points for his physicality he said, “I'll let them know I’m not happy!”

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

The four Champions League winners engaged in a special mini-tournament presented by PlayStation. Morientes defeated Larsson, with the latter not entirely surprised: “I haven't played the game since my son Jordan was about 13 – he beat me.” Cole was the other finalist, having beaten Kaká. 

Cole, who won 2-1 in the final, said he wouldn’t mind if his son decided to go down the gaming route. “Whatever makes him happy. To be able to go and watch him fulfil a dream on a grass pitch would be amazing, but if this is the next stage then it’s fine. If he came to events like this it’d be amazing.” 

With that, Cole was off to the commentary booth to provide analysis on the decider between fellow Argentines Nicolas99fc and Matías Bonanno (AKA MatiasBonanno99). The crowd packed in for the grand final, eyes glued to the many screens in the arena. They watched MatiasBonanno99 win the first two legs to force a winner-takes-all showdown, but Nicolas99fc roared to a 7-2 victory to claim the crown and almost €75,000 in prize money. 

Nicolas99fc accepted the trophy from Kaká, as silver streamers fell, sparkling fireworks lit up the room and the crowd cheered. “I was using the Real Madrid kit in the game and, like them, I never gave up,” said Nicolas99fc, who followed up with some impressive understatement. “We know how special the Champions League is in real life, so this trophy is really nice.”

The Space Arena. To the uninitiated, it might sound like somewhere that hosts futuristic gladiatorial duels. And to be fair, once brought up to speed, you might take heart from having not been too far wide of the mark: it was the venue for the grand finals of the 2021/22 eChampions League.

The hi-tech amphitheatre in the heart of the Swedish capital has been purpose-built for competitive gaming. Once the presentations were over and the dry ice had cleared, it was down to business: players made their way up the stairs and onto the shining stage, ready to take a seat at their machines and go head to head. The setting was an illustration of just how far EA SPORTS FIFA has come since it launched in 1993, when it was the preserve of people’s bedrooms; this is, after all, one of the most prestigious tournaments of the EA SPORTS FIFA 22 Global Series.

Winner Nicolás Villalba (top); runner- up Matías Bonanno (above, on left)

With the whole of this event streaming live via Twitch, TikTok and YouTube, as well as several UEFA media partners, it was a slick production. Nicolás ‘Nicolas99fc’ Villalba was one of the first to step up, as he began his route to the final with a 5-4 win over German competitor Umut (he then beat pre-tournament favourite Tekkz in the semi-final). A hushed silence fell over the invited audience during every game but, like any football fans, they cheered as the goals rattled in. 

The excitement levels went up a notch when Kaká, Ashley Cole, Fernando Morientes and local favourite Henrik Larsson turned up. They were there as guests of UEFA, EA SPORTS and PlayStation, and there was some friendly ribbing as they compared icon cards. When Larsson saw that Morientes had been given more points for his physicality he said, “I'll let them know I’m not happy!”

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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