Gamers8 launches in Riyadh with 24 teams in Rocket League

Gamers8 launches in Riyadh with 24 teams in Rocket League
Rocket League will kick off Gamers8 in Riydah. (SEF)
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Updated 13 July 2022

Gamers8 launches in Riyadh with 24 teams in Rocket League

Gamers8 launches in Riyadh with 24 teams in Rocket League
  • Total prize money of $2 million for the event
  • Team Falcons and three other Saudi sides in title chase

RIYADH: Gamers8, the world’s biggest esports and gaming event, has confirmed the competition structure of the highly anticipated Rocket League, which is the first series to headline the global Professional Esports calendar.

Over a four-day period beginning on Thursday, July 14, the world’s leading teams will battle it out for their share of a $2 million prize pool, with the winners guaranteed to take home $500,000.

The 24 participating teams will get their Rocket League campaigns underway in the tournament group stages, live from the state-of-the-art, purpose-built venue at Boulevard Riyadh City.

Competing in four groups of six, the top two teams from each group will secure their places in the playoffs, with the double elimination bracket adding to the suspense by leaving little margin for error. Just two defeats will result in elimination from the competition as the non-stop action unfolds while being broadcast in over eight different languages on Gamers8 channels.

Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation, said: “After months of behind-the-scenes planning and preparation, the Saudi Esports Federation is delighted that Gamers8 and Rocket League is finally upon us.

“As one of the most critically acclaimed esports games of all-time that continues captivating millions, we believe Rocket League will launch our summer showpiece in tremendous fashion as exhilaration and entertainment meets goodwill competition of the highest standard.

“With a roster that measures up to most competitive fields seen in previous Rocket League events worldwide, the coming days represent a huge opportunity for us to make the next landmark leap towards building the esports legacy that we envisage here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Among the teams vying for Rocket League supremacy at Gamers8 are Furia Esports from Brazil, FaZe Clan from the US, and Endpoint CEX from the UK. Moist Esports and Dignitas of North America and Europe, respectively, are also considered early favorites for outright winners, while hometown heroes Team Falcons are one of four Saudi Arabian teams flying the flag for the Kingdom.

Widely considered to be Saudi Arabia’s frontrunner on the eve of Rocket League, Team Falcons make their way to Gamers8 on the back of multiple first place finishes in regional Rocket League competitions and hopes are high of an impressive showing in the days ahead.

“For us as a team, playing live on stage in front of our home crowd is an excellent opportunity and we will do our absolute best to make them proud,” said Ahmed Alrubaish of Team Falcons. “It’s true that the world’s elite awaits us, yet we are heading into this tournament with an abundance of confidence, especially following our experience in the Rocket League Championship Series Spring Major. We can’t wait to play our first game while hearing the home crowd cheering for Falcons.”

For every team, Rocket League at Gamers8 is also a more dynamic tournament than those held previously around the world. In addition to being live rather than exclusively online, all matches will be played in ‘crew battle’ format — with singles, doubles, and three-on-three matches taking place as teams strive to win their best-of-five series matches.

When Rocket League enters the playoffs, matches will be best-of-seven, with the prize pool also including $300,000 for the runners-up, $200,000 for the semifinalists, and $115,000 for sixth and seventh placed finishes.


Algeria want to replace Guinea as 2025 Cup of Nations hosts

Algeria want to replace Guinea as 2025 Cup of Nations hosts
Updated 01 October 2022

Algeria want to replace Guinea as 2025 Cup of Nations hosts

Algeria want to replace Guinea as 2025 Cup of Nations hosts
  • Algeria football boss Zefizef Djahid said his country “will be candidates to host the 2025 AFCON”
  • Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe said Guinea would not host the 2025 edition because they were "not ready to do so"

JOHANNESBURG: Algeria football boss Zefizef Djahid said on Saturday his country will bid to stage the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after original choice Guinea were stripped of the hosting rights.
Speaking during the African Nations Championship (CHAN) draw ceremony at an Algiers opera house, he announced that “Algeria will be candidates to host the 2025 AFCON.”
On Saturday, Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe said Guinea would not host the 2025 edition because they were “not ready to do so.”
The west African country, one of the poorest in the continent, has currently only one international-standard stadium, and Cup of Nations require six.
Launched in 1957 in Sudan as a three-country event, the Cup of Nations has gradually increased to 24 teams from the 2019 finals in Egypt.
Talking at a press conference in the Algerian capital ahead of the CHAN draw, South African billionaire Motsepe said “about 10 countries” are interested in replacing Guinea.
“What I can assure you is that we are not going to choose a country that is not at an adequate level to meet our quality standards.”
Motsepe did not name the potential bidders, but AFP understands former hosts Morocco, Nigeria and Senegal could be among the interested countries.
“I can assure you that there is no country in Africa that is going to be favored,” stressed Motsepe, seemingly referring to criticism that is he pro-Morocco.
The CAF boss recently told AFP that “the only reason Morocco has been hosting CAF competitions is because they are the only country prepared to do so.
“Our bidding process is open to all 54 member nations and sometimes we stretch the deadline to encourage multiple candidates, but only Morocco deliver a formal bid.”
Morocco boasts world-class facilities and infrastructure and recently staged a hugely successful Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, with 40,000-plus crowds attending some matches.
Later this year the kingdom will host the eight-club CAF Women’s Champions League and, next year, the men’s qualifying tournament for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
A Moroccan official reportedly said his country “would consider” a bid to stage the premier African football tournament for the first time since 1988.
Outgoing Nigerian football boss Amaju Pinnick recently suggested his nation and neighbors Benin should make a joint bid.
Nigeria staged and won the Cup of Nations in 1980 and finished runners-up when they co-hosted the 2000 edition with Ghana.
Algeria were another country to host and win the Cup of Nations, defeating Nigeria in the 1990 final. Senegal were the 1992 hosts.
Cameroon hosted the last Cup of Nations this year and the Ivory Coast are next in line with the finals set for January and February 2024.


Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event

Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event
Updated 01 October 2022

Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event

Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event
  • Besides earning her first career title, Sherif also notched her first win over a top-10 opponent

PARMA, Italy: Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian to win a WTA Tour event by beating top-seeded Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3 at the Parma Ladies Open on Saturday.
Besides earning her first career title, Sherif also notched her first win over a top-10 opponent.
Along with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who reached the Wimbledon and US Open finals this year, Sherif is raising the profile of tennis in North Africa.
The 74th-ranked Sherif actually had to win two matches on Saturday, first overcoming sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals, which were postponed a day due to rain.
The seventh-ranked Sakkari beat Danka Kovinic 7-5, 6-2 in her semifinal earlier Saturday.


Smalling heads Roma to win at struggling Inter Milan

Smalling heads Roma to win at struggling Inter Milan
Updated 01 October 2022

Smalling heads Roma to win at struggling Inter Milan

Smalling heads Roma to win at struggling Inter Milan
  • Inter started strongly and were effectively camped in Roma's half for most of the first half
  • The hosts thought they had taken the lead with 10 minutes gone

MILAN: Chris Smalling headed Roma to a 2-1 win at Inter Milan on Saturday which kept them in touch with Serie A leaders Napoli following their 3-1 win over Torino.
England defender Smalling perfectly met Lorenzo Pellegrini’s free-kick with 15 minutes remaining to complete Roma’s comeback from going behind to Federico Dimarco’s fine first-half strike.
Jose Mourinho’s side, who levelled through Paulo Dybala six minutes before half-time, are four points behind Napoli in fourth place after a win which also leaves Inter further back in the title race.
Simone Inzaghi’s seventh-placed team are eight points off the pace after losing for the fourth time in their eight matches, hardly the best preparation for the crucial Champions League visit of Barcelona on Tuesday.
Inter started strongly and were effectively camped in Roma’s half for most of the first half, the away side not able to do anything more than sit back and try to hold off waves of attack.
The hosts thought they had taken the lead with 10 minutes gone, Edin Dzeko punishing dreadful defending from his former team by spinning and hitting a low shot past Rui Patricio.
However the Bosnian had strayed offside in the build up and Inter had to wait until the half-hour mark for the goal their play deserved.
Inter academy product Dimarco followed up on his goal against Hungary which helped put Italy in the Nations League final four by sweeping home Nicolo Barella’s nicely-weighted pass.
The hosts looked heavy favorites for the three points but the goal woke Roma, who were level nine minutes later.
Starting up front in place of Tammy Abraham, Dybala had just been denied by a Samir Handanovic double save which also kept out Leonardo Spinazzola when he thrashed in his brilliant leveller from the Italy left-back’s deep cross.
The Argentina forward was replaced by Abraham just before the hour and Inter responded, Hakan Calhanoglu hitting a free-kick off the bar before Kristjan Asllani, stepping in for Marcelo Brozovic, flashed a curling effort just wide.
However Roma settled and Smalling tipped the result in the away side’s favor with his second of the season to give Mourinho a precious win against his old club.
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa scored his maiden Serie A goals in Napoli’s home win over spirited Torino, his brace in the first 12 minutes setting up the hosts for their sixth win on the bounce in all competitions.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s fifth of his first Serie A season eight minutes before half-time will also keep Napoli in first place unless Atalanta beat Fiorentina by five goals on Sunday.
“I’m very happy, I don’t want to lie, it’s the first time for me in Serie A,” Anguissa told DAZN.
“It’s important to score but I just want to do my job. If the goals come, I’m happy but the first thing for me is my team, for my team to win.
“So, if we can win all the games, even if I don’t score, I don’t care. I just want to win.”
Napoli go into next week’s trip to Ajax in high spirits knowing they could take a big step toward the knockout stage of the Champions League.
Luciano Spalletti’s side have also netted 18 times in their eight league fixtures despite having to do without starting center-forward Victor Osimhen for their last three matches.
Torino, who scored through Antonio Sanabria just before the break, stay ninth after losing their third straight game and are level on 10 points with local rivals Juventus who host Bologna on Sunday.
Ivan Juric’s side have been unlucky to collect no points from their last three fixtures, with their previous two defeats coming late and after decent performances.


Newcastle back to winning ways with Fulham thrashing

Newcastle back to winning ways with Fulham thrashing
Updated 01 October 2022

Newcastle back to winning ways with Fulham thrashing

Newcastle back to winning ways with Fulham thrashing
  • A Miguel Almiron double and strikes from Callum Wilson and Sean Longstaff complete a 4-1 win after a run of draws
  • Due to a number of injury issues, head coach Eddie Howe was forced into changes to his usual defensive and midfield lines

LONDON: It’s amazing what three points earned can do for the outlook on Tyneside.
While many began to question whether Newcastle United’s one win in their opening seven games, even with just one defeat, was a positive or negative start to the season, doubters have been silenced thanks to their dominant display against Fulham.
All three points were secured in southwest London thanks to a special Miguel Almiron double, as well as strikes from Callum Wilson and Sean Longstaff, in a 4-1 win.
Bobby Decordova-Reid netted a late consolation for the hosts, who had Nathaniel Chalobah dismissed after just eight first-half minutes.
Due to a number of injury issues, head coach Eddie Howe was forced into changes to his usual defensive and midfield lines.
Joelinton and Matt Targett, both failing to be passed fit to start, found themselves benched with Longstaff and Sven Botman recalled. Jacob Murphy and Wilson were also restored to the Newcastle line-up, with Ryan Fraser and the injured Alexander Isak replaced.
And it was Wilson, back after a five-game lay-off, who could have opened the scoring within minutes of the off. A Dan Burn shot was brilliantly saved by the impressive Bernd Leno but the rebound was poked wide with the goal gaping by last season’s top-scorer Wilson.
The game was turned on its head after just seven first half minutes when Chalobah’s late challenge on Longstaff was deemed to be a red card after a VAR check. While home complaints were vociferous, it was the right call by referee Darren England, with Chalobah late and high on the United midfielder’s ankle.
Wilson made no mistake on 11 minutes, however — even if the goal, his third of the season, was a little cheeky, and much to the dismay of teammate Joe Willock.
A searching Willock cross-field pass found Kieran Trippier, whose ball in was headed goalwards by the former Arsenal man — and just as the ball was about to nestle into the far corner, Wilson popped up to turn in. To say Willock looked a little bemused in the celebrations is an understatement.
Newcastle and Wilson were just getting started. The frontman should have netted his and Newcastle’s second just before the half hour when Murphy teed up Willock to cross and Wilson on the turn flipped over Leno’s bar.
Often, when teams sit in this season, United have struggled to break down the opposition, but this time out the Cottagers’ backline crumbled under the pressure.
And it was orchestrator-in-chief Bruno Guimaraes, playing in a slightly freer, more advanced role, who unlocked the door — and created the Magpies’ second.
A one-two, which saw the Brazilian chip quite delightfully over the top, unleashed Almiron, who produced another goal-of-the season contender with a wonderfully controlled volley past the helpless, and rather isolated, Leno.
The floodgates were well and truly open for Newcastle — and they seemed in no mood to take their foot off the pedal.
On the stroke of half time, a looping Botman header looked set to ripple the net but for the acrobatics of Leno — the only man standing between Newcastle and an absolute rout — only for Longstaff to then smash home the rebound when it ricocheted back off the post.
Down and seemingly out, Marco Silva’s men were buoyed somewhat by some second-half changes, but the die was cast as United’s marauding frontline continued their rampage.
Willock, unlucky not to be on the scoresheet, was again denied by one-man wall Leno before Almiron added his second of the game just before the hour.
Again Willock was involved as he centered for the Paraguayan forward at the back post, who made it 4-0.
He was denied a memorable hat-trick by the offside flag before substitute Fraser also saw a deft chip chalked off for the same reason.
Three defensive changes, with Howe looking to rest bodies, saw Newcastle’s resolve loosen slightly and open the door and an all-too-willing Decordova-Reid, who headed home a late consolation to make things, from a scoreline perspective at least, a little less one-sided.
All-in-all, though, this was as one-sided as they come.
It’s onwards and upwards for the Magpies now, with just one loss in their opening two months of the campaign.
While a few more wins would have been welcomed by Howe and co, it’s hard to find fault with a team who are establishing themselves as one of the hardest teams to better in the English top-flight.


Leclerc takes Singapore GP pole as Verstappen aborts lap

Leclerc takes Singapore GP pole as Verstappen aborts lap
Updated 01 October 2022

Leclerc takes Singapore GP pole as Verstappen aborts lap

Leclerc takes Singapore GP pole as Verstappen aborts lap
  • “They told me to box and then I realized what was going to happen. We ran out of fuel,” Verstappen told broadcaster Sky
  • Leclerc clinched a season-leading ninth pole and finished .022 ahead of Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez and .054 clear of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton

SINGAPORE: Max Verstappen looked on course for pole position at the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday when his Red Bull team aborted his lap with just seconds left in qualifying because of a fuel issue and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took pole instead.
“Why? Why? Why?” Verstappen asked when told to box, before unleashing an expletive.
He soon found out why.
“They told me to box and then I realized what was going to happen. We ran out of fuel,” Verstappen told broadcaster Sky. “It is incredibly frustrating and it shouldn’t happen ... At least you (should) track that throughout the session to know you aren’t going to make it. We should’ve seen that way earlier.”
Verstappen starts eighth, although he’s won from 14th on the grid this season in Belgium.
He was well clear of Leclerc at the time splits but Red Bull called him in as he was about to go under fuel limit regulations. Drivers can be disqualified if they don’t have enough fuel left in the tank, which would have meant starting from last place.
Still, he was clearly displeased at what happened.
“I am not happy at all at the moment, I know of course it is always a team effort and I can make mistakes, and the team can make mistakes, but it is never acceptable,” he said. “Of course you learn from it, but this is really bad. It shouldn’t happen.”
Leclerc clinched a season-leading ninth pole and finished .022 ahead of Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez and .054 clear of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.
“It was incredibly close, a really exciting session,” said Hamilton, who has a record 103 career poles but none this year. “A really clean qualifying session. It was so difficult to get that lap perfect.”
Perez is confident he can challenge for victory.
“It’s an opportunity tomorrow from the start to attack Charles and I’ll go for the win,” Perez said. “It’s quite disappointing to miss out by two hundredths but at the end of the day I think they did a fantastic job. Very happy.”
But Verstappen’s grid position deals a blow to his chances of wrapping up the title on Sunday on a street track difficult for overtaking. That gives Leclerc a good chance to win his fourth race of the season.
“I thought we wouldn’t get pole but it paid off and I’m really happy,” Leclerc said. “It was really, really special, every qualifying in street tracks are super on the limit.”
Leclerc called it “a matter of time before Max gets his title.”
Verstappen leads Leclerc by 116 points and will clinch his second straight title only if he scores 22 points more than Leclerc, his most realistic challenger.
He must win to secure the title Sunday, along with two other scenarios involving Leclerc. If Verstappen wins, Leclerc can finish no higher than ninth; if Verstappen wins and earns a bonus point for fastest lap, Leclerc can finish no higher than eighth.
The race buildup has seen bickering between teams over an alleged 2021 budget cap breach by Red Bull, which drew an angry response from Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
Also, Hamilton was summoned to appear before the stewards for a potential jewelry breach shortly after third practice had ended at the Marina Bay Circuit.
The seven-time F1 champion was later cleared after being investigated for an alleged infringement of Appendix L, Chapter III of the FIA’s International Sporting Code, which includes a prohibition on the wearing of jewelry. The summons related to Hamilton’s nose stud, which he had previously removed when the FIA’s jewelry ban was applied.
Hamilton said he explained to stewards before qualifying started that he needs to keep the stud in due to complications linked to a blood blister on his nose. Hamilton said he has a doctor’s letter showing all this and stewards accepted his explanation after reviewing footage.
Meanwhile, two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso will start behind Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. and from fifth place in his record 350th F1 race on Sunday, which will be one more than 2007 F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was sixth and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly qualified seventh ahead of Verstappen, Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) in 10th.
Williams driver Alex Albon, racing just three weeks after being hospitalized with appendicitis and then suffering respiratory failure, qualified 19th.
He went out of Q1 with Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon — who have a combined 19 F1 wins. Bottas starts from 16th spot with Ricciardo 17th and Ocon 18th.
Earlier Saturday, Leclerc led a rain-hit third and final practice ahead of Verstappen. Half the session was lost as marshals swept water off the 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) track, which mostly dried out for qualifying.
Midway through Q2, some drivers changed to the quicker slick tires while other stayed on intermediaries. Mercedes driver George Russell starts 11th after being knocked out of Q2 with four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin).