Dubai: Two of Manchester City’s professional eSports players believe the gaming sector in the UAE will go from strength to strength after gamers across the UAE battled it out in the qualifying rounds of the Man City eCup, presented by Expo 2020 Dubai, ahead of this weekend’s finale live at Expo 2020 on Sunday.
During the two-day qualifiers held virtually, there was plenty of drama as the eSports tournament produced some thrilling matches with the participants battling to claim their spot in the live final event at Festival Garden on 27th February.
The final will be contested by Odai Daboul and Khaled Nabil Lotifi, who will be aiming to reign supreme and claim the $2,500 prize fund. In addition to the FIFA tournament finals, they will also take on Manchester City’s FIFA professionals Ryan Pessoa and Shaun ‘Shellzz’ Springette in an exhibition 2v2 match live in Dubai.
Ahead of the finale, ‘Shellzz’ and Ryan were impressed with the high number of entries and believe the Man City eCup can serve as an important platform to attract more people in the UAE to gaming.
On this weekend’s exciting tournament finale, Ryan said: “I think it’s great for a lot of people who are maybe casual players as local tournaments like the Man City eCup can give them the motivation and confidence to help them sign up for more tournaments which can lead them into eSports.
“And the opportunity to play us as professionals in a 2v2 match is a great experience and we’re looking forward to seeing the talent in the UAE this weekend.”
Shellzz, who won the club’s first e-Premier League title in 2020/21, added: “Having that competitive environment is something that can push you to get involved and experiences like this are great for those casual players who want to take that extra step. ESports can only get bigger, both in the UAE and region but also globally so this is an exciting step for gamers here.
“You have stars coming from all different nationalities and background, so the sky’s the limit. It will be really cool to see the players at Expo competing in this year’s eCup and we’ll see who ‘wows’ us from the region.”
The tournament is an extension of the partnership that Expo 2020 Dubai has with Manchester City and the club’s Esports operations and will also be supported by the club’s Official Telecom Partner, Etisalat. Both Expo 2020 Dubai and Etisalat feature on the 2021/22 Official Esports Shirt and have collaborated on a number of Man City content and fan activations throughout the season.