February 23, 2024


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The Klein Zeitung Games Cup ended with a glorious final in Graz

The Klein Zeitung Games Cup ended with a glorious final in Graz

The headphones stay in place and it blocks out the outside world. Philipp Gutmann only has eyes for the eleven SK Sturm Graz players, whom he controls on screen with his controller. Result: 1:2. Gutman shoots, 3:1. Reason for joy? It is possible, but his facial features do not reveal that. No expression is changed, and focus is maintained. “My goal is to win the championship,” Gutmann says confidently. Ultimately, his game revolves around winning the group stage of the Klein Zeitung Games Cup, the final of which was played on Saturday at the Helmut Liszt Hall. For the first time, Kleine Zeitung has organized a gaming tournament with the game EA FC 24. EA FC 24 is the new name of the popular football simulation from video game manufacturer EA, formerly known as FIFA.

More than 1000 participants

Since the Austrian eBundesliga will not continue, the “Kleine Zeitung Gaming Cup” is currently the largest EA FC 24 tournament in Austria. More than 1,000 players have registered for the cup. From this large pool of participants, 32 players were selected in two online qualifying tournaments and then competed again in a playoff. The top 16 teams gather for the final on Saturday in the Helmut List Hall to choose the winner of the Kleine Zeitung Gaming Cup.

Due to the end of the Bundesliga, the level of the cup is very high. Participants include eSports professionals and, among others, former German Football League winners such as Fabio Oselt. Carinthian is Austria's first Army eSports professional, having won the last individual competition in the eBundesliga. Unfortunately, his last stop in this competition is the group stage. “I didn't have good form today,” he says. However, he believes the tournament is well organized and says: “There should be more events like this here in Austria.”

Philipp Gutmann, 28, from Graz, is already a veteran of the esports scene in Austria. He has been the captain of the SK Sturm Graz eSports team for six years. They finished the group stage first with two wins and a draw, and now their journey continues in the knockout stages. The man from Graz, who is also a coach for the eSports team Wolfsburg in Germany, has an analytical approach. “I want to get into the game and really understand it,” he says. His key to success: complete conviction that he can win the match.

Visitors were also able to compete with the professionals.

Visitors were also able to compete with the professionals.

© Kelz / Stefan Bajmann

Play against influencers

In addition to the Playoffs in the Games Cup, there are also so-called “Beat the Pro” sessions. Here all football fans can test their EA FC 24 skills against gaming influencers. One of them is Mirza Jahic. The Lower Austrian has been a successful Twitch streamer and professional FIFA player for years and is passionate about the organization. “You can see from the many recordings that people still love to gamble, and it's even better that they will have the opportunity to do so in this tournament,” says Jahik.

It's not just football video games that arouse the interest of gaming enthusiasts around the world. Video games have found their way into society in Austria. According to a study by A1 and Nielsen, 54% of Austrians play a computer game at least once a week. Even Graz City Youth Councilor Kurt Hohensener understands this: “As an avid football fan, I know that EA FC 24 is not just a game, but a passion that unites us. The Games Cup is a great opportunity for our young people to show their special skills.

Meanwhile, the finalists were sweating on stage. Gutman was not one of them, but took third place. Paul Rona took home the win and thus the main prize, a football trip to FC Bayern Munich and an Xbox Series S, after a 3-1 win over his twin brother Piotr.