Editor's note: Arda Ocal, an Emmy award-nominated broadcaster and the voice of the NHL Gaming World Championship, covered the 2019 tournament for NHL.com. Here is his recap of the Final, held in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
LAS VEGAS -- Matt "Top-Shelf-Cookie" Gutkoski's incredible season concluded with the 2019 NHL Gaming World Championship at HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas on Tuesday, defeating John "JohnWaynee90" Casagranda in the final after advancing against Canada champion Karl "MG x Nuclear" Caslib in the semifinals.
The all-United States Final produced an instant classic with Gutkoski winning the best-of-3 series 2-1 with a 4-3 triumph in the deciding game.
The Ohio State University student from Columbus has been unstoppable since winning the Columbus Blue Jackets esports tournament this season. After going undefeated in the regionals, Gutkoski continued his winning ways with stingy defensive play and incredible one-timer offense to win against Casagranda, of Anchorage, Alaska. If the "1T" is the best way to score in the game, he's the best at setting it up.
Erik "Eki" Tammenpaa, who entered the tournament as the defending champion, was dethroned in the semifinals by Casagranda in a dramatic Game 3, when Casagranda scored two goals in the final 30 seconds of the third period in a moment described as "The Miracle On Device."
Gutkoski accepted the championship trophy and first-prize check of $50,000 from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NBC's Kathryn Tappen.
"There were a lot of ups and downs," Gutkoski said, "but to come out on top is something I would have never imagined and will never forget.
Casagranda won $15,000 as the runner-up.
Caslib, of Vancouver, swept Tammenpaa, of Espoo, Finland, in the third-place matchup to win $10,000. Tammenpaa took home $5,000.
Each of the gamers will attend the 2019 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone on Wednesday.
Full replay can be viewed at twitch.tv/nhl.