Players from the Australian Grand Prix 2020
The Australian Grand Prix of Table Football kicked off on Friday 7th February with players arriving for the Dinner Draw held at 1959 Bar & Grill within South Melbourne FC’s fantastic facilities. The draw threw up a couple of candidates for the dreaded Group of Death in the Open event, but with the depth in quality there would be no easy progression to the round of 16.
Due to several players suffering from illness, the Juniors competition was reduced to a round robin competition between all competitors, and the women’ event unfortunately had to be cancelled. All individual events were held on the Saturday, with the Club Teams and International Team friendly held on the Sunday, along with a WASPA for those players without Club Teams at the event.
In the junior’s event, the clash between the top two ranked players determined the title. Northern Falcons’ Torben Pfister claimed the title with his 2-0 win over Western Flickers’ Benjamin Ng who finished as runner up thanks to his 1-0 victory over clubmate Jayden Truter.
Group 1 pitted top seed Bernard Lim against top ranked Central Victoria TFC Player Steve Wright and Western Flickers junior Jayden Truter. Bernard comfortably topped the group, scoring 7 goals without reply, whilst Steve progressed thanks to a 3-0 victory over Jayden.
Group 2 drew current Asian Champion Rudy Hesty from Singapore with former European, English and Scottish Champion (plus World Cup runner up!) Michael Dent from Malaysia. Making up the group of three was ATFA President Adrian Connolly. The Group started with Adrian doing well to contain Rudy before succumbing to a 1-3 loss, before upsetting Michael 2-0 to progress. Rudy narrowly accounted for Michael 1-0 to ensure he topped the group.
Group 3 was the most tightly contested. The 3rd seed Benny Ng seemed to be cruising to the round of 16, but a 0-1 loss to North Falcons’ junior Torben Pfister in the final round saw the pair deadlocked with Northern Pheonix’s Christos Garagounis on top. With all three players sharing 1-0 victories over each other, the 3-way head to head was deadlocked. This meant the unfortunate Christos was relegated to 3rd place on goal difference by virtue of his smaller victory over the remaining group member, Arjuna Hanafi.
In Group 4 the clash between reigning AGP Champion Robert Green and 2018 World Cup junior Australian representative Benji Batten determine top place in the group. The reigning champ prevailed 2-1. Benji progressed in second place thanks to narrow victories over Italian Claudio Recinelli and Northern Pheonix’s Paul Mercer.
In Group 5 Jurong Subbuteo Club’s Vikas Chandiramani comfortably progressed with three straight wins, scoring 11 goals without conceding. The top FISTF ranked women’s player at the event, Beth Eveleigh, progressed in second place thanks to her win over newcomer Nathan Urbaniak of Melbourne TFC who took out third place after defeating Hipfingerz’ Jeremy Simpson.
Group 6 was one of the “Groups of Death”. Anthony Madiona had to forfeit his games due to illness, leaving Jurong SC’s Rizal Taib, Northern Falcon’s Eliot Kennedy, and Melbourne TFC’s Luke Radziminski to battle it out. Luke started well, winning the first two games to top the group and putting his name forward as a dark horse for the title. 5th seed Eliot progressed in 2nd place with a 6-2 win over Rizal in the final group game. Rizal can feel somewhat unlucky to have copped 10 goals in just two games by virtue of the tough group, and he would later show this by making the final of the consolation WASPA.
Group 7 pitted Australia’s Italian Tony Credentino against Singapore’s Italian Luca Maida. Both started well with strong wins over their other two opponents – Central Victoria TFC founder Kevin Grant and Western Flickers’ newcomer Peter Benholm. With the final clash between Tony and Luca ending 1-1 it was Luca who topped the group on goal difference. Kevin took out third place with his 2-0 win over Peter.
In Group 8, Giuseppe Tardiota quickly established himself as the main threat to 8th seeded FISTF President Steve Dettre. Both Giuseppe and Steve had comfortable wins over Juliette Browne and Benjamin Ng to set up the final game to decide the group. Giuseppe took out the clash 1-0 to top the group, whilst Benjamin defeated Juliette 3-0 to finish 3rd.
The round of 16 saw several familiar clashes. Giuseppe Tardiota was out for revenge against Adrian Connolly who defeated Giuseppe 4-1 at this stage of last year’s AGP, whilst Melbourne TFC’s Benji Batten and Luke Radziminski resumed their friendly rivalry, and the experienced Northern Falcons duo of Eliot Kennedy and Robert Green renewed acquaintances once more. Luke and Adrian perhaps suffered a little from the long breaks after games in their small groups prior to the round of 16, but credit to Benji and Giuseppe who were both playing well by this stage and took out their clashes. Robert Green was also looking strong in his 4-0 over clubmate Eliot.
In the other clashes, top seed Bernard Lim overcome Tony Credentino 2-1, Torben Pfister defeated Beth Eveleigh 4-0, Luca Maida defeated Steve Wright 4-1, Rudy Hesty defeated Steve Dettre 4-1, and Benny Ng narrowly took out his clash with Vikas 1-0.
The quarter finals were tight affairs, with the exception of Rudy Hesty’s 7-2 win over Benji Batten – Rudy confirming his early favouritism. Torben beat Luca 2-1, with the junior FISTF Australian Grand Prix winner now advancing to the semi finals of the Open event. The other two clashes went to sudden death golden goal extra time. Benny Ng and Robert Green scored the crucial goals that took them through to the semis, with Giuseppe and Bernard bowing out.
In the semi finals, Rudy was again in ominous form, defeating Torben 5-0. The other clash was much tighter. Benny Ng holding on for a 1-0 win over 2019 Australian Grand Prix winner Robert Green.
This set up an all Singaporean final, meaning that for the first time a Singaporean would be taking out the title. The final was a tight and tense affair. Both players didn’t give an inch. The title needed to be decided on a penalty shootout. Rudy kept his nerves and won the shootout 3-0 to claim the 2020 Australian Grand Prix Open title.
Australian Grand Prix winner Rudy Hesty (left), celebrates with runner up Benny Ng
OPEN WASPA CONSOLATION PLATE
A Consolation Plate WASPA event was held for other those competitors eliminated from their groups in the FISTF Open. The players from the Groups of 3 were given a bye into the ¼ finals, along with the best 3rd place from the remaining groups, Christos Garagounis. In the barrage, Benjamin Ng overcame Peter Benholm 3-0, Nathan Urbaniak beat Juliette Browne 3-1, Arjuna Hanafi beat Kevin Grant 2-1, and Claudio Recinelli defeated Jeremy Simpson 3-1.
The ¼ finals saw narrow wins for Michael Dent, Nathan Urbaniak, and Benjaim Ng. All three won 1-0 over their respective opponents. Razil’s clash with Claudio was a more open affair, with Razil prevailing 5-2.
The semi-finals saw Rizal narrowly defeat Nathan Urbaniak who did well to make the WASPA Plate semis in his first FISTF event. Meanwhile Michael Dent looked good in his 3-0 win over Benjamin Ng.
The final was again a tight affair. Michael controlled much of the tempo of the game and scored the only goal of the game to take out the title. The result meant that the FISTF Open winner and the WASPA Consolation Winner both came from Group 2 of the FISTF Event, perhaps unofficially giving it the title of the Group of Death!
On the Sunday a WASPA event was held between those players not involved in a club team. A strong field was available. The players were divided into two groups. The final places were decided in a straight clash of 1st vs 1st from each group so that players could watch the final of the FISTF Club Team event. This put added pressure on each group game, particularly in Group 2 where Giuseppe and Tony were battling it out for top spot. Their clash finished in a 0-0 draw, meaning that Tony took out the group on goal difference to set up a title clash with Bernard Lim, who comfortable won the other group. Both Tony and Bernard had not conceded a goal in their group games, but both had been scoring freely as well so it set up an interesting final. Tony pushed the top FISTF ranked player at the event all the way before ultimately going down 2-3 to Bernard.
In the remaining playoffs, Giuseppe defeated Arjuna 2-1 to take out 3rd place, whilst Nathan defeated Peter 1-0 to finish 5th.
FISTF CLUB TEAMS
Six clubs contested the team event – all four Victorian clubs, plus Northern Falcons from Sydney and Jurong Subbuteo Club of Singapore. Unfortunately, due to flight cancellations resulting in an earlier flight home than planned, Torben Pfister was not available to play for his club in the event.
In Group 1, as expected, the North Falcons progressed, their only defeats being virtue of the forfeits caused by Torben’s unavailability. Western Flickers narrowly overcome Northern Phoenix to progress with the Falcons to the semi-finals.
In Group 2, Melbourne TFC and Jurong Subbuteo Club were too strong for Central Victoria TFC competing in their first FISTF event as a team. The clash between Melbourne and Jurong determined top spot, with Melbourne prevailing.
In the semi-finals, the forfeited 4th tie proved too much a handicap for Northern Falcons to overcome in their narrow defeat to Jurong, whilst Melbourne proved too strong for the Western Flickers after some high scoring clashes, including Benji Batten’s 4-3 win over Adrian Connolly (after Adrian gave him a 4 goal head start early in the clash!). The Melbourne team, with Carl Young and Peter Thomas back in its ranks, looked to be hitting its stride nicely for the final.
The final was filled with goals and drama. Two individual contests were level at 2-2, and a narrow win to each team in the remainder meant that the teams clash progressed to golden goal extra time. Benji Batten scored the golden goal that gave this club the title and couldn’t hide his delight!
Firstly, a B international friendly was held between Australia and Singapore. Adrian Connolly, Giuseppe Tardiota, Tony Credentino and Paul Mercer were pitted against Bernard Lim, Luca Maida, Rizal Taib, and, Arjuna Hanafi, respectively. With two individual wins each, and an equal goal difference, the friendly ended in a draw.
The A international was almost as close. With two draws, and a win apiece, the clash was decided on goal difference. Rudy Hesty was again the hero for Singapore, with his larger victory than that of Benji Batten giving the win to Singapore who once more prevailed over Australia in an A international.
This concluded the weekend’s event. A big thank you to all players who competed and helped out throughout the weekend in various official and unofficial capacities to ensure the tournament delivered on expectations, and more. Special thanks must go out to Paul Mercer for his great organisational skills, and Kevin Grant for all his heavy lifting and transporting of all the boards (as well as building them in the first place!). We hope to see you all at future events, be it a FISTF event on the international calendar or a local WASPA.