Editor's note: Arda Ocal, an Emmy award-nominated broadcaster and the voice of the NHL Gaming World Championship, will be covering the 2019 NHL Gaming World Championship for NHL.com. Here is his recap of the Canadian regional finals:
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators have the Battle of Ontario.
The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, The Uncivil War.
The Philadelphia Flyers and every team within 10 miles of New York City…they're all rivals.
And in EA SPORTS NHL 19... it's Yung Gren and Josh Fearless.
In a match that seemed almost inevitable at the Canadian regional finals, these two kings of chel met in the semifinal in an epic best-of-3 clash that needed overtime for each game.
The series that saw creative offense, incredible defense, crafty goal scoring and some animated celebrations from both competitors, came down to the final goal. Starting behind the net, Yung Gren created space in front and buried the puck top corner to advance to the Canadian regional final.
"By far the closest series I've ever played," Gren said after the tournament. "Three OT games and I don't think anyone could ask for a better series."
J-Fear took to Twitter after the loss, "Words can't describe how heartbreaking that was... every game going in to OT to come short. Giving up only 4 shots in the whole game and only 2 after the regulation to lose killed me. "
The response from members of the chel community, fellow competitors and casual fans alike, was unanimous: we just witnessed the greatest series in competitive NHL video game history.
"After I was really tired mentally because of how those games went going into the finals," Gren said.
Which was not ideal because he still had one more game to play. The Canadian Championship was at stake, after all, and so was $5,000 and a guaranteed spot in the Final 4 in Las Vegas.
Awaiting Yung Gren in the final showdown was MGxNuclear from Vancouver, who surprised everyone by eliminating returning competitor Sitful in the first round, which also ended in a Game 3 overtime thriller, and cruising past xDubz in the semis. Whether Gren was mentally exhausted from the battle just minutes earlier or not, nothing can be taken away from Nuclear's accomplishment. With a statement to make, he defeated Gren to capture top prize in Canada.
After the tournament, "Nuke" was ecstatic and thankful.
"This entire experience... I never thought I would be playing NHL (19) for money," admitted Nuclear. "It's unbelievable. Thank you for the support"
Nuke noted that he feels players from the west coast, particularly Western Canada, often get slighted, due to fewer players from the more densely populated east coast wanting to play against them online because of the slower connection speeds. Nuke hopes that this victory will give more spotlight to Vancouver, Western Canada and the worthy competitors who live there.
To show his Western Canada pride, Nuke repped his hometown by wearing Vancouver Canucks sweaters not those of his favorite NHL team, the New Jersey Devils.
Nuclear and Yung Gren will both go to Vegas. Josh Fearless, by winning a contest which included votes from Twitch viewers, will also attend.
The American regional finals on Thursday May 30 in Stamford, Connecticut, is the final stop before the Grand Finals take place in Las Vegas on June 18, the day before the NHL awards. Both will be live on twitch.tv/nhl