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The first day of the Manchester FUT Champions Cup brought surprises and upsets, but FIFA esports fans have come to expect that at this point. Some big names bowed out of the competition, while some old names came back to the forefront. And of course, the stalwarts that remained only solidified their standing.
After five rounds of group stages, four players, coincidentally two from each console, remained undefeated. On the Playstation side, Manchester City's Kai "deto" Wollin, last year's FIFA Interactive World Cup runner-up, put in an impressive shift, as did Barcelona runner-up Nicolás “Nicolas99fc” Villalba. Among Xbox One players, Javier "Janoz" Munoz Cordoba and 2017 Rest of World Regional Champion Mosaad "Falcon Msdossary" Aldossary, both familiar names in the circuit, showed up in full force.
Barcelona winner Donovan "F2TeKkz" Hunt finished with a 4-1 record, qualifying for the knockout stages and showing fans that he wasn't just a one-hit wonder. His only loss came in the third round against Kurt "Kurt0411" Fenech, an outspoken challenger who has impressed recently. 2017 FIWC Champion Spencer "Unilad Gorilla" Ealing followed suit with the same record, as did Fenech.
Hashtag United's Harry Hesketh came out swinging, and after a tense two-leg affair against his teammate "Hashtag Ryan" Pessoa, qualified for the knockouts with a 4-1 record. The "derby" of sorts ended 4-3 to Harry, but Pessoa remains very much in the hunt for a qualifying spot, with a 3-2 record after the first day. Adam "Hashtag dreamR" Barton remains in the competition too, with a 2-3 record. On the Xbox side, eight players were eliminated from the competition after securing only one win from five games.
Among PS4 candidates, the standouts from the 4-1 finishers included Hashtag's Agge Rosenmeier, whose lone loss was to Wollin. The incredibly offensive match had the makings of a grand final, finishing 6-5 in favor of Wollin, and viewers will hope to see a rematch in the latter stages of the knockout rounds.
FC Basel's Tim "FCB TheStrxngeR" Katnawatos, not so much a dark horse anymore, finished 4-1 as well, as did Timo "TimoX" Siep and Mohammed "MoAubameyang" Harkous. One surprising early exit on the PS4 side was Unilad's Shaun "Shellz" Springette, who bowed out with a disappointing 1-4 record.
The broadcast crew will be back Saturday morning at 7 a.m. ET for the last two rounds of the group stages. The knockout rounds will follow. 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.