The UK reigned supreme at the sixth Official PES European Finals, with both its entrants reaching the final of the hard-fought competition.
Held on Saturday in the beautiful city of Seville, the sixth Euro Finals saw 27 entrants from 16 countries gather to determine who was the best Pro Evolution Soccer 6 player in Europe. Split into four groups of six or seven, the games were played out on the PlayStation 2 version of the game within the city's stunning Olympic Stadium.
All eyes were on last year's German champion Mike 'El Matador' Linden, who was a hot favourite to retain his title - and showed his skills by beating the Japanese Champion in an exhibition match that opened the tournament. However, after a shaky start where he drew his first two games and lost the third, Rob McLean found his form and went from strength to strength. Conversely, his UK stablemate, Mark Gardiner started strongly - even drawing with El Matador - and further growing in confidence as the competition progressed.
The quarter-finals saw El Matador went out at the hands of the Euro Final's youngest ever entrant: 12-year-old Sebastian Pluciennik from Poland. In a tense game, Sebastian lost a 1-0 lead to a late equaliser, only to secure victory in a nail-biting penalty shoot-out. In the meantime, Rob McLean and Mark Gardiner secured their places in the final with victories against German entrant Matthias 'Goool' Winkler and the Polish youngster respectively. It marked the first time two entrants from the same country had played each other in a final, and saw McLean become the first person to reach the final in consecutive years.
The final itself was initially a balanced affair, but a late flurry saw Rob McLean score three goals with ten minutes to go, before netting another three and emerging the 6-1 victor. He was presented with a glass trophy and a signed copy of PES 2008 for PLAYSTATION®3 by series creator Shingo 'Seabass' Takatsuka, and will be given a bye into the finals next year.
"This was a fantastic conclusion to the Pro Evolution Soccer 6 season," commented Jon Murphy, PES Team Leader for Konami Digital Entertainment GmbH. "The fantastic location and close games combined to create a hugely competitive competition where tempers flared, the crowd grew ever more tense and some stunning goals were scored. Everyone who entered was a credit to their respective territory and we congratulate Rob for winning the competition and Mark for making it an all-UK affair. Now we turn our heads to PES 2008 and the seventh European Finals next year."
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