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After a lengthy two-month hiatus, this weekend will mark the return of the FUT Champions Global Series, held in Manchester, one of football's biggest cities in the world. January's Barcelona cup featured one of the bigger Cinderella stories in the esport's history, with 16-year-old Donovan “DHTekKz” Hunt taking home the crown.
Hunt, as well as the Barcelona runner-up, Nicolás “Nicolas99fc” Villalba will return in Manchester to stake their claim and solidify their reputation as the world's best, but they'll obviously have some stiff competition.
UNILAD esport's top notch duo of Shaun "Shellzz" Springette and 2017 FIWC Champion Spencer "Gorilla" Ealing will return. Springette finished as the runner-up in last year's FIFA 17 Ultimate Team Championship Berlin Grand Final.
Kai "deto" Wollin, who lost out to Gorilla in the FIWC final last year, will also feature. Spencer "Spencer FC" Owen's Hashtag United will field a five-man team in Manchester. "Hashtag Ryan" Pessoa is a player that is poised for a deep tournament run. "Hashtag Agge" Rosenmeier, formerly of Paris Saint-Germain, has been a staple in the competitive esports scene as well. "Hashtag Harry" Hesketh and Ivan "Hashtag Boras" Lapanje will also try to make their mark, along with newcomer Adam "Hashtag dreamR" Barton.
Lucas "PSG DaXee" Cuillerier is back, and so is Tassal "FaZe Tass" Rushan, the Paris Regional Final winner from last year. German club Schalke will field the duo of Tim "S04 Tim Latka" Schwartmann and Lukas "S04 Idealz" Schmandt. FC Basel's Tim "FCB TheStrxngeR" Katnawatos, who has always been a dark horse candidate in former competitions, is back as well.
The top 16 players from Manchester, i.e. the top eight from each console, will move on to qualify for the Global Series playoffs. This tournament will follow the same Swiss structure that was used in Barcelona, a departure from the format used in last year's FIFA Ultimate Team Championship and the FIFA Interactive World Cup. If you need a refresher on how things will play out, here's how it works.
Every match between two players, including the Knockout Stage matches and the Grand Final, will be played over two legs. The player with the higher aggregate score will be declared the winner, but, if the scoreline remains tied after two games, extra-time and penalties will decide the winner.
The Group Stage will be broken up by console, and the players will be seeded based on their qualifying results. What this means is that the No. 1 seed from Xbox One will play the No. 64 seed, and so on; the same goes for the flip side, with PlayStation competitors. After the first match based on the seedings, players will then be matched up against others with the same win-loss record. No player will face the same opponent twice. The competitors will have the chance to play up to seven matches in the Group Stage, or 14 games in total. Four wins from seven matches will ensure entry into the Knockout rounds, but if a player loses four matches, they will immediately be eliminated from the competition.
The Knockout Stage is relatively simple. The 32 players to advance from each console will be seeded into a single-elimination bracket based on their win-loss record from the Group Stage. At the end, only two players will remain, one from Xbox One and one from PlayStation, and they will go on to play each other in the cross-console Grand Final. In the Grand Final, one game will be played on each console and the player with the higher aggregate score will be declared the champion and get to take home 22,000 dollars.
The tournament will kick-off on Friday at 7 a.m. ET with the Group Stage, and can be viewed on Twitch.
The broadcast crew will be back Saturday morning at 7 a.m. ET for the Knockout Rounds. For a more fleshed-out look at the entire weekend's schedule, you can go here. Extended coverage and behind-the-scenes action can be found on EA's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat channels.