Thousands of people crammed into the O2 Arena in London to sit in front of the spectacular FIFA eWorld Cup 2019 stage where one FIFA 19 player would make history and become World Champion.
The 32 best players in the world competed over three gruelling days, where some were able to step up to the occasion and others crumbled under the pressure. There were three clear favourites coming into the tournament but in the end, none were able to come close to Werder Bremen's Mohammed "MoAuba" Harkous, who lifted the trophy and took home a staggering $250,000 in prize money as well as tickets to the Best FIFA Football Awards in Milan later this year.
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MoAuba become the first-ever German World Champion
Walking onto the stage for the grand final against last year's World Champion, Rogue's Mossad "MSDossary" Aldossary, MoAuba couldn't contain his smile. The pressure was off, he had already done the unthinkable by defeating FC Basel's Nicolas "Nicolas99fc" Villalba, PlayStation's top seed prior to the tournament, and this was another match nobody expected him to win. The German even had time to joke: "I don't know what this controller is" as he prepared to play on his weaker console, the Xbox One, against MSDossary.
Speaking to Goal after the game, MoAuba confirmed he didn't feel any pressure before the final: "I had the craziest game of my life against Nicolas. I had just won $100k and I was the PlayStation champion, so when I played MSDossary I had nothing to lose - he's the best player in the world by far. I didn't expect I could beat Stefano Pinna, Nicolas99fc and MSDossary all in one tournament, it's crazy for me."
Watching the final, you wouldn't have guessed this was a mismatch on paper. MSDossary did dominate the first 10 minutes on his strongest console but MoAuba was able to hold on and eventually found the first goal early on. MSDossary equalised shortly after, however, and the tense first leg finished 1-1 which was a brilliant result for MoAuba to take onto the PlayStation 4 leg.
Before that game, while MSDossary was setting up in his chair, MoAuba walked to the front of the stage and crouched down to have a word team-mate Michael "MegaBit" Bittner and his girlfriend, who offered him words of encouragement. Whatever they said, it worked - you could see that MoAuba was feeling comfortable. Early on, the ball rolled to one of his players outside the box and, rather than try to find a killer pass, he flicked the ball into the air and attempted a spectacular scissorkick.
The confidence was oozing out of the German and within 23 minutes he found himself 2-0 up in the second leg, making it 3-1 on aggregate. You could feel the momentum shifting, so reigning FIFA eWorld Cup champion MSDossary was forced to pause to compose himself and change his tactics. The Saudi Arabian switched to 4-4-2, the formation that won his coach, Spencer "Gorilla" Ealing the FIFA Interactive World Cup in 2017.
But it didn't work, MSDossary failed to register a shot in the first half and his woes continued into the second, with a rare mistake as he chipped the ball while going for a driven shot. It turns out MSDossary is human after all. The 2018 world champion grabbed one back and looked certain to equalise but Mo decisively charged his keeper out of the box in a genius move reminiscent of his fellow countryman, Manuel Neuer.
For perhaps the first time in his career, MSDossary was shaken. A last-minute slide tackle from behind gave away a free-kick and clearly showed MSDossary's frustration. He knew his chance was gone and he would not become the first-ever back-to-back FIFA World Champion as MoAuba became the first German champ with a 3-2 aggregate win.
Penalties heartbreak for Nicolas99fc
Before getting into the grand final, MoAuba had to survive one of the wildest games of FIFA you will ever witness. Again, this was a match that few would have given MoAuba a chance despite the fact that he is an accomplished player himself.
Yet, MoAuba took the game to the favourite with a wonderful attacking display. The German was unshaken when he conceded in the first 10 minutes and replied with an instant goal, curling a finesse shot from outside the box into the top corner while his player had his back to goal - a technique that had been extremely strong in the first few months of FIFA 19. From there, MoAuba was in the zone and scored another two within the fast half, leaving the commentators stunned. Brandon Smith described it as the best 45 minutes of football he had ever seen from the German.
But MoAuba didn't stop there either, he was on fire. He was uncharacteristically resolute at the back and repeatedly cut Nicolas99fc's defence open with gorgeous through balls. The German found himself 5-2 up on aggregate but then his luck changed. His defender headed a corner out of his goalkeeper's hands, straight into the path of one of Nicolas' players to make it 5-3 on aggregate.
With just one minute and extra time remaining, Nicolas99fc managed to slip into the box and score yet another. He needed just one more goal to force extra time in the PlayStation final, in which winner would be guaranteed $100k in prizes instead of $25k. That was when disaster struck for MoAuba. One of his defenders went down injured while trying to hold possession and his return pass bounced off of the injured player into one of Nicolas99fc's forwards. The crowd gasped as the shot was saved but then erupted moments later as Nicolas99fc equalised from the resulting corner, the final score was 5-5.
MoAuba admitted at that point, he thought it was over: "I thought I had won. I was 5-2 up but he scored such a lucky goal to equalise that I thought EA didn't want me to win. My coach woke me up because I felt like I was out and I managed to secure my spot on penalties, which was not an easy 30 mins as he was so motivated." During the penalties, you could feel the immense pressure these two players were under as the first four were saved. However, it was MoAuba who came out on top and instantly the German collapsed onto the wall next to him in tears in what was, until the final, the biggest moment of his career.
F2Tekkz group stage shock
Before MoAuba lifted the trophy, there had already been a major shock in the group stages which rocked the FIFA community. Donovan "F2Tekkz" Hunt, the world number one who had dominated FIFA 19 for the entire year, fell apart at the final hurdle. The Englishman had an appalling showing and was shockingly eliminated in the group stages following a 6-5 defeat to Megabit.
Understandably, the 18-year-old was devastated and didn't show up for the final day of the tournament. This was his first-ever FIFA eWorld Cup and was the dead favourite to win the entire thing considering his consistency throughout the year. However, it's still very, very early into the Englishman's career and you can be sure that he will have many more opportunities to reach a FIFA eWorld Cup final in the years to come.
Rafsou pushes MSDossary to the limit
In the Xbox final, Team Vitality's Fouad “Rafsou” Fares was almost able to cause a major upset against MSDossary himself. The game finished 6-0 in MSDossary's favour when these two met in the group stages but Rafsou made sure that wouldn't happen again with an early goal.
From there, the Frenchman continued his attacking onslaught which kept MSDossary pinned in his own box for the majority of the first half. MSDossary was able to fight back with a late equaliser but a defiant Rafsou then replied with another goal himself after a lovely flurry of skills in the corner opened up space in the middle.
However, MSDossary showed why he was undefeated in the tournament at that point as the Saudi Arabian battled back to win the game 4-3 on aggregate and secure his place in his second consecutive FIFA eWorld Cup final. Though he didn't win the tournament this time, there's no doubt that MSDossary is one of the greatest FIFA competitors ever.
Tass still has it
While one Englishman in Tekkz struggled in the group stages, another shone as FaZe Clan's Tassal "Tass" Rushan surprisingly finished joint top in Group A following fantastic results including a 4-3 win over Tekkz, a 9-6 win over Ébio "Ebinho" Bernardes and an outrageous 6-1 win over Megabit.
However, Tass was left fuming after he crashed out of the tournament in the quarter-finals after losing 1-0 to Rogue's Nawid "GoalMachine" Zoorzai. Tass accused the Canadian of timewasting as GoalMachine kept possession for the majority of the game, not wanting to take risks. GoalMachine fought back on social media by showing that Tass didn't have a single shot across the two legs. It's fair to say, things could get heated if these two meet again in a FIFA 20 tournament.