Does FIFA 2018 have a new contender for the crown of best player in the world? It certainly seems that way after a surprising result at January’s FUT Champions Cup in Barcelona.
A total of 128 top FIFA players from all around the globe (20 different countries sent representatives to the event) battled it out through initial group stages and then a knockout stage to decide the champion.
In the final reckoning, the unheralded 16-year-old English player Donovan “DhTekKz” Hunt stunned many of the biggest names in FIFA esports gaming. He claimed the title in his first-ever FIFA tournament and with it the $22,000 (£16,000) top prize.
Unheralded seed turns into star performer
Prior to the tournament, Hunt was not a name on the lips of those who follow FIFA as an esport. And he was certainly not among the favorites of the 128 competitors to win the trophy. That is hardly surprising though, given this was the youngster’s first competitive esports tournament.
Hunt carried the No. 55 seed on Xbox One before the tournament began but quickly showed his class. In the group stages, he racked up a 5-2 record against some very talented and far more experienced players. The highlight of that phase was a stunning win over the FIFA 17 Championship Series winner: Frenchman Corentin “Vitality Rocky” Chevrey.
From there, the young English player wasn’t even close to done. The knockout stages saw Hunt’s brand of dynamic attacking football destroying top opponents to reach the Grand Final.
Heroics in the knockout phase
He started off in the Xbox Round of 32 defeating Ivartheboneless 7-5 on aggregate in what was arguably his toughest test in the knockout phase. Then, in the Round of 16, he faced a far more experienced opponent in Kurt1. Hunt came through their two-legged matchup with a stunning 5-1 victory over one of the tournament favorites to earn a quarterfinal spot.
There, he defeated Hashtag Ryan 3-1 on aggregate before heading into a semifinal match with the top seed in the Xbox One section, Megabit. What followed was a feast of attacking football. DhTekKz came through a classic semifinal to win 10-6 on aggregate.
The Xbox One final pitted him against Nraseck7. This proved a closer affair, with DhTekKz taking a 5-3 victory to become the Xbox One Champion. This earned him a place in the Grand Final against the PlayStation 4 winner Nicolas99FC.
Thumping Grand Final victory
Many felt the more experienced Argentinian player would have the advantage here. Yet DhTekKz produced arguably his best performance of the tournament. He took a 3-0 lead in the first leg, scoring before his opponent had even touched the ball. Then, Hunt conceded two late goals to head into the second leg with a narrow 3-2 advantage.
However, any hopes that Nicolas99FC had of erasing the deficit soon evaporated. Hunt rattled in five goals unanswered to take a massive 8-2 aggregate lead into the second half. Both players found the net during the final 45 minutes with the final score a resounding 9-3 win for Hunt.
The upset came with one more strange circumstance. The Grand Final was subject to a four-hour delay due to a PlayStation network outage. During that time, Hunt managed to keep himself calm before taking the title in dominant fashion.
Win guarantees FIFA eWorld Cup qualification
With this win, Hunt guarantees himself a place in the biggest FIFA esports event of the year, the FIFA eWorld Cup. As for his £16,000 prize money, the teenager already has some idea how to spend it.
“My mum has done a lot for me, so I’m going to pay for her to go on holiday to San Francisco,” he told The Daily Mail following his win. “Also, I’m going to buy season tickets at Anfield for me and my Dad.”
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Furthermore, within 24 hours of his win, Hunt’s number of Twitter followers rose from around 1,000 to over 45,000.
The next FIFA Ultimate Team Champions Cup takes place in April, and the qualifying begins this month. Other events in the FIFA 18 Global Series include the FIFA eClub World Cup, League Partners, other Licensed Qualifying Competitions, and the Last Chance Weekend. This leads into to the Global Series Playoffs in June and then on to the FIFA eWorld Cup later in the year.
The FIFA gaming fraternity may have just unearthed a new superstar. But as much as DhTekKz is enjoying his famous victory, there are hundreds of top players now working hard on tactics to nullify his expansive attacking style at future events.
It will be down to the youngster to prove this was not just a one-off victory and that he is the real deal.
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