Monday 11 Jan
Updated Monday 11 Jan 13:45

West Ham Esports sit third after intense week of qualifiers

West Ham Esports continued to make steady progress towards a place at the 2021 FIFAe Club World Cup with another third-place finish in the second round of qualifiers, while also putting in good performances in Global Series qualifiers and Weekend League.

Amidst a highly competitive qualification group (known as a ‘conference’), Curtis ‘Paps’ Poole (on PlayStation4) and Jonas ‘Jonna’ Ghebrehiwot (on Xbox One) once again teamed up to maintain their standing as bronze medallists in the top tier.

The result sees the Hammers collect a further 200 Consistency Points – awarded over the four weeks of qualifying to reward consistent achievers – and sit third in the table, giving them a good platform upon which to build in the final two rounds over the next fortnight.

Club World Cup qualifiers

With each conference playing out as a double-elimination knockout tournament, the Hammers went into Round 2 of qualifiers seeded third, having only narrowly missed out on a place in the conference final in Round 1.

Their draw, however, saw them face the internationally renowned finalists from last year’s Club World Cup – FaZe Clan – the sixth seeds whom the Irons had bested in Round 1.

As a result, three close-fought legs of FIFA ensued, and while Paps was able to see off former Champions’ Cup winner ‘Tass’, 3-0, Jonna was defeated narrowly by FaZe’s ‘Jas’ in the next two legs to move West Ham into the lucky losers’ bracket.

With the prospect of relegation to Division 2 on the line – the first two teams to be eliminated slip down a division each week – the Irons then faced a crunch match against Round 1’s promoted side, Burnley FC Academy.

Claret and Blue went up against claret and blue over three competitive legs, with West Ham winning out: Paps defeated ‘CallumN17’, before Burnley’s ‘Ashy’ beat Jonna 3-0 – but the Irons recovered in the decider, Jonna winning 1-0.

In the next round, West Ham Esports were paired with Vodafone Giants, one of Spain’s largest professional Esports organisations, but comfortably defeated them: Paps beat TojoR 1-0, and Jonna defeated herzex 2-1.

With a top-four finish secured by the close of play Thursday, attentions then turned to the business end of the competition on Friday. 

Top-class opponents continued to arrive as the Hammers faced off against French Esports team 4gamer – surprise finalists in Round 1 of the conference – with West Ham looking to avenge a penalty shoot-out semi-final defeat against the dark horses.

While Paps slipped to ‘NKantee’ 2-1 in the first leg, Jonna won the second against ‘koalaboiteux’ by the same scoreline – and, with the random draw once again declaring the deciding game would be played on Xbox, Jonna managed to repeat that trick to secure a top-three finish.

It was in the lucky losers’ bracket final where West Ham finally came unstuck, taking on a fine Red Bull Leipzig Gaming side who had won Round 1 of the conference in December.

Even then, however, they took them all the way, with Paps beating Red Bull’s ‘Umut’ in a first-leg 4-3 thriller.

By yet another quirk of the draw, Jonna was then tasked with twice facing off against one of the best individuals in the conference – Red Bull’s ‘Gaucho’ – and fell to narrow 2-0 and 2-1 defeats.

Club World Cup results

At the end of Round 4, four teams will advance to the Club World Cup Playoffs – the two teams who finish in the final, plus the next two teams ranked by Consistency Points.

With the Hammers sitting third in their conference with Round 2 of 4 now having been completed, they have a good opportunity of progressing in the Club World Cup should they retain such consistency.

Over the weekend, Paps and Jonna were then joined by Alfie ‘AC RedLac’ Calder in FIFA Global Series’ second of five Europe qualifiers this season – tournaments where individual players can win significant ranking points as they look to qualify for the 2021 eWorld Cup.

Structured as separate double-elimination tournaments on PS4 and Xbox, the Europe qualifiers see just over 1024 competitors vie for these points.

With back-to-back two-legged ties taking place all across Saturday and Sunday, the Hammers all faired well but could not reach the latter stages of the competition, with RedLac reaching the second day of the tournament but Paps and Jonna both narrowly missing out.

The trio will look to pick themselves up again, however, when Europe Qualifier 3 comes around in early February.

And all three subsequently rounded off the weekend on a high with some emphatic scores in Weekend League: RedLac recorded his first 30 wins, 0 losses score of the 2020/21 season, while Paps added yet another 30-0 and Jonna came in narrowly behind at 29-1.

All three achievements will grant the players valuable Global Series points as they bid to reach the end-of-season Playoffs event.

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