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16 July 2020 | in eSports

Final match-ups decided in FISU eSports Challenge

The 2020 FISU eSports Challenge reached the business end on Wednesday, 15 July, with both the men’s and women’s semi-final match-ups providing plenty scintillating action, and even more goals. 

 

Thirty-two participants in the men’s tournament and 12 in the women’s event were whittled down to four over the past week, with some of the best student gamers from across the world showcasing their talent on the global stage. 

 

Mens semifinal 1 3As was the case in the previous round, Wednesday’s semi-finals were played over two legs, with Semi-final 1 in the men’s draw kicking off proceedings as Masih Mohafezatkar from the Qazvin University of Medical Sciences in Iran took on Thailand’s Natthawich Kongkijpipat from Rangsit University.

 

Dubbed ‘the final before the final’, an exciting match-up was expected between the two gaming heavyweights, and their semi-final match-up didn’t disappoint, with a third golden goal encounter needed to separate the talented players. 

 

Having gone unbeaten in the tournament so far, Mohafezatkar was the slight favourite heading into the clash, yet a shock result was on the cards as Kongkijpipat, who played most of the match on the break while absorbing his opponent’s attacks, took a surprise 3-0 lead, before Mohafezatkar pulled a goal back 15 minutes from time through Kylian Mbappe, giving himself a glimmer of hope heading into the reverse fixture despite trailing 3-1.

 

Mens semifinal 1 1Knowing goals were needed from the start, Mohafezatkar’s Liverpool team were on the front foot from the onset, dominating possession and constantly searching for an opening through Kongkijpipat’s defence, which was finally breached again by Mbappe 29 minutes in. 

 

Kongkijpipat struck straight back to restore his two-goal cushion on aggregate, yet two more goals on either side of half-time after relentless pressure by Mohafezatkar brough him level in the tie, his tail now up as he looked to complete the comeback.

 

The Iranian then took the lead for the first time in the clash when Johan Cruyff’s right-footed shot rippled the back of the net with ten minutes to go, yet 23-year-old Kongkijpipat would not give up, levelling the tie just four minutes later as the breath-taking semi-final finished 5-5 on aggregate, with a third golden goal decider needed to separate the two players.

 

Mohafezatkar took control of the deciding match from the onset, needing just 18 minutes before Neymar’s clinical effort booked the Iranian’s spot in the final after a hard-fought and thoroughly entertaining match-up.

 

Given barely a moment to recover after the men’s semi-final frenzy, the over 200 spectators were thrust into another action-packed battle in the first women’s semi-final, as 18-year-old Maha Saif Albreiki from Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates faced off against Group B winner Najd Fahad from the Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in Saudi Arabia.

 

women semifinal 1 1Having navigated her way through the group stages with four wins and just one loss before dispatching South Africa’s Khaalidah Bilqees Mohammed 10-3 in the quarter-finals, Fahad was the out-and-out favourite as she took an early lead through the Brazilian Ronaldo just ten minutes into the first leg.

 

Albreiki replied with a fine goal from Hernan Crespo just two minutes later to level matters, but that was as good as it got for the young Information Systems Technology student, who could only watch on as her opponent dictated play and bossed possession for the remainder of the encounter, Mbappe and Neymar registering their names on the scoresheet as the first leg tie ended 3-1 in Fahad’s favour.

 

Fahad continued where she left off in the reverse fixture, piling on the pressure despite her two-goal lead as a brace from Ronaldo and a third from Ruud Gullit made it 3-0 before half-time. Outplaying a determined Albreiki, who was unable to mount a comeback, Fahad comfortably saw out the remainder of the clash to earn a 6-1 aggregate win as she marched on to the final. 

 

Mens semifinal 2 1The second session of the day started off with the second semi-final in the men’s competition, where Amran Al Dhuhli from the Modern College of Business and Science in Oman faced off against Australia’s Dillon Henriques-Gomes from Swinburne University of Technology.

Both contestants had finished second in their respective groups with two wins and a loss before safely navigating their way through the knockout stages to the semi-finals, with a close encounter expected between the two gamers.

 

Gomes began the first leg on the front foot, taking an early lead after sustained pressure which continued throughout the first half. Not content to sit on his lead, the Australian continued to take the game to his opponent, yet Al Dhuhli was able to soak up the pressure and level matters through a fine Allan Saint-Maxim chip ten minutes from time. Gomes however struck back almost immediately through Franck Ribery to take a narrow 2-1 lead into the second leg.

 

Al Dhuhli was a player transformed in the reverse fixture, obliterating his opponent 8-0 with a new-found confidence and relentless pressure on the Gomes goal. His remarkable comeback began with a Ruud Gullit strike on 20 minutes, with his neat interchange of passes and waves of attack seeing Saint Maxim, Kylian Mbappe and Eusebio registering their names on the scoresheet to make it 4-0 at half time. Refusing to sit on his lead, Al Dhuhli opened the floodgates with four more in the second half to win 9-2 on aggregate, making a notable statement while easing his way into Thursday’s final.

 

women semifinal 2 1Soon after the 11-goal tie, Wednesday’s final encounter saw Australia’s Jessica Au from Monash University take on Brazil’s Alexssandra Batista from UniAteneu for a spot in the women’s final.

 

Both had breezed past their quarter-final opponents earlier in the week, with little to choose between the highly-talented gamers. Yet Architecture and Urbanism student Batista laid down the gauntlet early on, her sustained pressure in the opening stages of the encounter seeing her take a 2-0 lead thanks to a Wissam Ben Yedder brace within the first 25 minutes.

 

Au halved the deficit as Heung Min Son slotted home to make it 2-1 just before half-time, with a tightly-contested second half producing no more goals as Batista held on to her narrow lead ahead of the second leg.

 

The reverse fixture provided ample action and goals for the spectators streaming and commenting on Twitch as Batista increased her lead early on, two quickfire goals giving her a three-goal lead in the tie. Au would not go down without a fight however as she scored two goals of her own, her side entering the half-time break 4-3 down on aggregate and within touching distance of levelling matters.

 

Yet Batista proved the stronger of the two in the second half, stamping her authority on the game as strikes from Ben Yedder and Emmanuel Petit stretched her into an unassailable lead, the 4-2 victory resulting in a 6-3 aggregate win for the Brazilian who marched on into Thursday’s gold medal match.

 

With that, the 2020 FISU eSports Challenge final match-ups are confirmed:

 

Men’s final:

Masih MOHAFEZATKAR, Qazvin University of Medical Sciences (IRI) v Amran AL DHUHLI, Modern College of Business and Science (OMA)

 

Women’s final:

Najd FAHAD, Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University (KSA) v Alexssandra BATISTA, UniAteneu (BRA)

 

Join us for the final day of the 2020 FISU eSports Challenge, with the final matches streamed live on FISU Twitch at 22:00 CEST (20:00 GMT).