Does it not only feel like yesterday that the Gfinity Elite Series Delivered By Domino's Season 4 was getting underway? Or is it just us? Either way, we're already at the conclusion of the group stage of the season in the blink of an eye, and playoffs will be at the forefront of everyone's minds. Some teams are unfortunately already out of contention for the knockout stages, whilst others have already punched their ticket to the next round. The majority though still have their fates hanging in the balance, so not only will we be breaking down every single one of this weekend's fixtures for you, but giving you exactly what each team needs to advance to the quarter-finals.
Sit tight and strap in; this is going be a thrilling ride.
With a maximum six points up for grabs in each match, every spot in Group A is still just about up for grabs, giving Friday night's first contest an interesting dynamic. Team Envy are top of the group on 12 points after winning all three of their matches 4-1, and they face 4th-place Vitality who sit 1 point out of the playoff spots on 7 points. As 2nd-place Method have an off week, Envy are technically already qualified for the next round; they will be looking for a big result to progress as group winners. As for Vitality, a win for them puts big pressure on exceL for the final transfer spot, after they clawed things back to a 3-3 draw against the team in black and orange last week.
After watching on anxiously as to what happens in the first match, exceL will head out next up knowing exactly what they will need from their match to qualify. Unfortunately, they will be facing Dream Team Gaming, fresh off a hard-fought three points last week against Method that kept their playoff hopes alive. DTG sit at the bottom of Group A on 5 points, but with exceL on 8 points and Method on 11 in 2nd, they still enter the final week with an outside chance of Playoffs – and Fully, Bullock and co will be fired up to do just that.
With Man City Epsilon on a bye week and having already wrapped up top spot in Group B by a country mile, the race for 2nd and 3rd place is still wide open, with just 5 points separating 2nd-place AS Roma FNATIC and bottom side ASUS ROG Army. The former face off against 3rd-place Hashtag United in Friday's third game, and while it's not quite a playoff eliminator, whoever loses will face an anxious wait to cling on to their playoff spot; a draw might suit FNATIC slightly more than Hashtag, but not much. It's been a shaky title defence so far for FNATIC, but the big guns came to the party last week to secure a big six points against Nordavind; with Hashtag taking a point off Man City Epsilon last week, they will be hoping (and needing) an even bigger result to advance to Playoffs for the first time.
Friday's main event therefore sees Nordavind and ASUS ROG Army facing off. Depending on the result in the game prior, both of these teams' fates could already be decided, but the maths is very simple regardless; win or bust. A draw might be enough for Nordavind if Hashtag fail to take a point against FNATIC, but quite simply ASUS ROG Army need four or more points at a minimum – something they've found hard to come by in their debut Elite Series Delivered By Domino's season. Nordavind will be licking their wounds after last week's steamrollering by FNATIC – bouncing back to secure a playoff place could be just the tonic.
Much like Epsilon in FIFA 19, Method can rest easy on their bye week knowing they have secured top spot with last week's 3-1 win over Reason Gaming. It's the least the impervious trio of Rix Ronday, Borito B and Kassio have deserved, avenging their Season 3 semi-final loss to Vitality in the process. Behind them though, it is all to play for – just three points separating 2nd-place Envy from 5th-place Reason, and exceL's upset victory over Renault Team Vitality last week has flipped everything upside down.
The defending champions in black and yellow kick off Saturday's action knowing that a win is the very least they need to ensure their title defence doesn't end this weekend. Unfortunately, to do this they need to navigate a rematch of the Season 3 Grand Final and defeat Team Envy. Doing so whilst denying Envy a losing bonus point will be enough for Vitality; a losing bonus point for Envy is all they need to secure a playoff berth, and leave Vitality relying on results elsewhere.
Similarly, Group A's other match is a straight playoff eliminator; whoever loses out of exceL or Reason Gaming is going home no matter what happens. A win might not be enough for Reason, but maximum points for exceL would see them home without relying on other results. Either way, exceL enter this one full of confidence, and former champions Reason have highly experienced talent in their ranks – as well as a win over Envy in Week 1 – on their side. Expect an incredibly tense encounter, with possibly both Envy AND Vitality watching anxiously in the wings.
Group B is even more wide open, with every spot still up for grabs from leaders FNATIC right down to 5th place ASUS ROG Army, with only 4 points separating them. FNATIC face off against 3rd-place Hashtag United first up in what is effectively a shootout for top spot; with Hashtag just one point behind in 3rd coming into this, and 2nd-place Epsilon on a bye week, whoever wins this wins Group B. It really is that simple. A losing bonus point for either side will also still be enough to secure a playoff place at the very least, and leave Epsilon watching anxiously from back home.
Our final match on Saturday is definitely giving us deja vu – Nordavind on 4 points in 4th facing ASUS ROG Army on 3 points in 5th, almost identical to their respective FIFA 19 positions going into this weekend. This is another straightforward playoff eliminator; winner takes all, and either knocks out Epsilon or Hashtag depending on earlier results – ASUS ROG Army would win a tiebreaker with Epsilon if they match their points total with a win here. Both teams will be throwing everything but the kitchen sink at each other here to get the all-important W; an entire season could come down to this. Don't miss it.
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Saturday night opens up with 2nd vs 4th place in Group A doing battle in Vitality and Envy. It's been a good second season so far for Vitality's squad, taking two wins from three and sitting on the verge of playoffs; despite last week's hammering by exceL, a losing bonus point will be enough for them to qualify, and a win gives them a shot at taking top spot in Group A. Former champions Envy however, have had a torrid time so far in Season 4 and currently sit 4th on just 3 points, having lost to Method and fierce rivals exceL in brutal fashion. They need to win and deny Vitality a losing bonus point to give themselves a chance – and cause a three-way tie for 2nd which would be resolved by overall game difference across the season. A Vitality win eliminates both Envy and Method, so expect huge energy, heart, desire and incredible skill in this one.
The second Group A game is a lot more straightforward, as bottom team Reason Gaming take on table-toppers exceL. The ever-popular Reason remain winless for Season 4, and a last-gasp defeat to Method last week ended their playoff hopes for good. It's been a familiar tale of great performances and heart not being reflected on the scoreboard, but they have form for toppling former champions in seasons past; taking down Gfinity royalty in exceL to go out on a high sounds like a very Reason thing to do. ExceL themselves sit top of Group A on an unbeaten 9 points – a losing bonus point is all they need to secure top spot, but they will be wary of a potential Reason ambush. Not much might be at stake here, but expect the noise levels to be high for this match regardless.
Group B is an interesting case, with both Nordavind and FNATIC safely through to playoffs in 1st and 2nd but still battling for top spot – last week's match between the two was the Season 3 Grand Final rematch that lived up to the billing and then some. FNATIC are up first on Saturday night taking on Hashtag United, a team who sit 4th on just 3 points but know that a win will secure them a playoff place – knocking Epsilon out of the top 3 and having tiebreaker advantage on ASUS ROG Army even if the latter win their match later in the evening. A losing bonus point wouldn't be enough though, as Epsilon would have tiebreaker advantage on Hashtag. A win for FNATIC meanwhile would give them a shot at snatching the #1 spot from the invincible Nordavind. Whatever happens in this match, spare a thought for the Epsilon guys watching powerless from the sidelines as their fate hangs in the balance.
Saturday night's main event is a top vs bottom clash; Nordavind vs ASUS ROG Army. Spare a thought for ASUS ROG Army; they need a win and for FNATIC to deny Hashtag United any points to even have an outside chance of snatching a playoff place. Unfortunately, their opponents are the defending champions Nordavind, a team on an unbelievable eight-match winning streak stretching back to the Season 3 group stages. FNATIC pushed them to the limit last week, but despite Phenom losing the first sets of his Elite Series career, he still bounced back to clinch the deciding set against Shakz. One does not simply beat the unbeatable, and if ASUS ROG Army manage to do just that it will go down as one of the greatest shock victories in Elite Series history.
With so much to play for in the decisive final week of league play, there's no excuse to miss out. Get your FREE tickets to come and watch all the action in the Gfinity Arena here on Eventbrite, and you'll also be able to watch live exclusively on Facebook every single week: