02.16.23, 20:33
Who’ll make their way to the quarter-finals?

First puck drops: IIHF eWorld Championship opens with group stage

by Niklas Aßfalg/Storie Serres
Photo: IIHF

The 2023 IIHF eWorld Championship will see its first games on Saturday and Sunday. The group stage will determine which teams move to the quarter-finals.

Just seven months ago Finland crowned themselves the IIHF eWorld Champion – the second title after their triumph after the 2020 IIHF Esports Fan Championship. The common denominator in both tournaments? Erik “EkiOriginal” Tammenpää. The world-class esports pro in EA SPORTS™ NHL™ games was named MVP on both occasions.

Despite his list of titles growing, “EkiOriginal” has no plans of stopping, and won the Finnish Xbox qualifier to once again represent his country in the 2023 IIHF eWorld Championship – trying to go for the three-peat. His new partner on PlayStation is Jesse “JesseL2002” Linden, a newcomer to the IIHF eTournament.

Italian comeback, improvement for Ukraine?

In group A the defending champions will face Latvia, Denmark, Italy and Ukraine. The Latvians could prove a strong competitor as they surprisingly reached the semi-finals in 2022 – where they lost against Finland (6-12). With Kristers “chibra” Bauers back for a second year, Latvia has a strong chance of moving on.

A special focus will be on the Italians, as they couldn’t nominate a team in 2022, and celebrate their comeback. Denmark will have an eye on advancing to the quarter-finals after missing the knockout stage last year by one goal. Ukraine on the other hand lost all their games in 2022 and will strive for improvement this time around.

Early clash between United States and Canada

Favourites of group B are United States and Canada, where North American giants will clash in the group stage. The US team will try to avenge themselves for the thrilling 7-8 loss via parallel overtime in the 2022 finals against Finland. Canada will try to cut a better figure than last year – quarter-finals was the final destination for the Maple Leaf.

Group B is completed by Great Britain, Austria and Hungary who‘ll have to give it their all to eliminate at least one of the big favourites. The same could be said about Japan in group C; in 2022 they couldn’t get a single point while conceding 86 goals. This year the Japanese will face Czechia, Germany, Slovakia and Poland.

Czechia and Sweden looking to advance

Especially Czechia should be ready for another surprise; in 2022 they made the semi-finals but the US team was too strong (4-12). The Swedish team couldn’t repeat the road to the final from 2020 and lost to Latvia (8-9) in the quarter-finals after parallel overtime. In group D Sweden will aim for first place against Switzerland, Norway and France.

The two top teams of each group advance to the quarter-finals of the 2023 IIHF eWorld Championship. The whole group stage will be live-streamed on the Twitch channel of the IIHF, separate streams are available in Finnish and German.

Saturday (Groups C and D)

Main stream (16.45 UTC): https://www.twitch.tv/iihfhockey

German stream (16.45 UTC): https://www.twitch.tv/bl00dylp

Sunday (Groups A and B)

Main stream (16.45 UTC): https://www.twitch.tv/iihfhockey

Finnish stream (16.45 UTC): https://www.twitch.tv/sportsgamergg

German stream (18.45 UTC): https://www.twitch.tv/bl00dylp