Dream Team went along to Arsenal’s Emirates stadium last week for the PES League World Finals, and what an experience it was.
Having witnessed the highs and lows in Porto back in May, we were expecting even more drama as the finalists went head-to-head to be crowned PES League 2019 World Champions in the co-op and singles disciplines.
There was a real buzz about the place as we headed into the east stand of the Gunners’ home in North London for Friday’s co-op tournament, with former player and ‘Invincible’ Robert Pires in attendance for broadcast.
Part of the excitement was down to Konami – the creator of PES – extending their long-term partnership with Arsenal, giving them unrivalled access to the club’s biggest stars and ensuring the Gunners will be presented in all their glory in the upcoming game.
Big news ahead of the much-anticipated release of PES 2020 in September.
Friday’s co-op tournament saw eight teams – two each from Europe, Americas, Asia and Thailand – fighting it out in the Group Stage consisting of two groups of four ahead of the semi-finals and final.
And there was an early shock in the opening round of games as last year’s champions Broken Silence lost 1-0 to Asia Regional Finals runners-up Beginners, while South American side eLigaSul Stars impressed in a dominant display over Toyota E-League winners Buriram United with a 5-1 win.
The two then faced off in a stunning clash that saw Broken Silence suffer their second straight defeat, with eLiga Sul Stars coming out 3-2 winners.
In perhaps the game of the tournament, the reigning world champions came from behind twice but failed to score a third, only going close by hitting the crossbar.
In the semi-final, early pace-setters eLigaSul Stars were pitted against their fellow-Brazilians Tigers Esports, with Tigers blitzing their compatriots with two early goals.
But eLigaSul – by this point, the tournament favourites – managed to level the score in the second-half, which included a last-minute equaliser to force extra-time at 2-2.
Then we saw the comical side of eSports, as a console crash forced the match to be replayed from the beginning instead of heading to penalties.
Cruelly, it was eLigaSul Stars who took the initiative and won the ‘replay’ with an easy-as-you-like 2-0 win to book their place in the final.
Indonesian side WANI took on Beginners in the other semi-final match-up, and took a commanding 2-0 lead in the first-half.
Beginners were knocking on the door in the second-half and were unlucky to see a lovely well-worked goal ruled out for offside.
WANI held on to set-up an intriguing final against eLigaSul Stars.
It was another dominant display from eLigaSul Stars in the final, as the Brazilians took a commanding 2-0 lead, with their opening goal coming inside the first two minutes.
WANI barely threatened their opponents, who were able to hold onto their lead, meaning the brilliant eLigaSul Stars ran out co-op World Champions!
The co-op finals might have been exciting, but singles PES is a completely different ball game, with no team-mate around to bail you out if you’re having an off day.
The group stages got off to a barnstorming start as two former World Champions went face-to-face – Ettorito picking up a 2-0 win after a thrilling clash with Gui Fera.
Brazilian starlet Henrykinho emerged as an early contender and progressed out of his group with Christopher PW, as Ettorito advanced to the knockout stages with a 100% record alongside Mayageka.
Usmakablye was also winning over fans in the room as he topped Group D ahead of Verysutton – wonderkid Zeus Faidan and The Palma the others to progress efficiently from Group C.
Ettorito’s 5-0 thrashing of Verysutton might have been the most emphatic of the quarter-final results, however it was Zeus Faidan who continued to defy the odds, this time staging a remarkable comeback from two goals down to beat Henrykingho in extra-time.
Christopher PW kept his nerve to clinch a dramatic penalty shootout win over The Palma and in the process set up a mouthwatering semi-final meeting with Usmakabyle who overcame Mayageka in his quarter.
Ettorito survived a late scare against the new fans’ favourite Zeus Faidan, as the 16-year-old fell just before the final hurdle, going down 1-0 to last year’s champion.
In the other semi, Usmakabyle saw off the challenge of Christoper PW and set up an all-star clash against Ettorito in the final.
The two juggernauts couldn’t be separated at the end of normal time and so extra time was required to determine the victor.
Having twice come back from behind, Usmakabyle summed unrivalled fighting spirit to pip his Italian opponent, bookies favourite and reigning world champion to the trophy with a 4-3 coupon-busting win!
PES 2020 is released on September 10, with the demo dropping July 30 on PS4, Xbox One and PC – you can pre-order the game right now!