Strike Night is a must-see event if you want to experience some of Europe’s top players showing off their street football skills.
The Collins’ Music Hall in Islington hosted Nike’s inaugural Strike Night, where flair and clinical finishing to score points are the name of the game.
The judges on the night included Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, Arsenal great Ian Wright and UK rappers Dave and AJ Tracey.
Strike Night was hosted by Poet and David Vujanic who also host for the Copa 90 YouTube channel.
The talent on display included Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marcus Rashford, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Christian Benteke, Alex Iwobi, Mauro Icardi, Andre Silva and Thibault Courtois.
There was also top names in the audience, including Harry Kane, Eden Hazard and Jan Vertongen.
Rules and scoring
Each player has five attempts to score in a specially-made goal with a scoring system that gives points depending on where the ball lands.
The main task is to strike a ball into the net as it was pumped into the striker from a machine.
Judges can award an extra 100 or 500 points for a goal or attempt that involves enough skill and flair to get a crowd on their feet.
A long-range strike that goes into the top corner gets the player a 1,000 points, the maximum for a single strike.
The goal used in the Strike Night event costs over £400,000 which is no surprise as it has its own scoring system built in and even seems to have a bit of personality itself.
Viewers watching via Facebook also had an opportunity to increase the participants score adding an extra 500 points to the chosen player.
Each round a player is represented by a heart or like button on Facebook and whoever receive the most Likes or Hearts got the bonus 500 points.
The fixtures and showdown
The only time we normally get to see these top talents come up against each other is in Champions or Europa League matches, so this was a great opportunity to watch six deadly strikers from across Europe going head to head.
Iwobi was a late replacement for Rashford who arrived late after some delays getting to the venue but still managed to get involved.
The Strike Night event was also promoting Nike’s latest Hypervenom III Black/Metallic/Silver as three levels of crowd looked on in a location buried beneath the streets of London.
The fixtures on the night of the first round featured Aubameyang vs Benteke, Oxlade-Chamberlain vs Icardi and Iwobi vs Andre Silva.
The semi-final round included Silva vs Icardi, while Oxlade-Chamberlain was given a second chance as he finished as best loser of the first round and also he was a wildcard to face Rashford after his late arrival.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s defeat to Rashford earned the Manchester United forward a place in the final four against Aubameyang.
To add a little twist to the final, the tournament made a substitution of keepers from the Nike Academy’s goalkeeper, who received a lot of praise from the judges as he made several great saves against top quality players.
He was replaced by Chelsea number one Courtois to increase the difficulty for the finale.
Despite, Rashford’s late arrival, he still manages to defeat Borussia Dortmund’s current top goalscorer to face Silva, who defeated Icardi in the other semi-final, which had the most goals on the night and featured the goal of the night.
The final itself was very intense with a lot of misses, perhaps because of the presence of Courtois, with both players knowing it might just take something special to score past him.
Silva was announced as the winner unanimously after great acrobatic goals and even got awarded the extra 500 points from the Facebook viewers.
He had what the judges were looking for and that was flair and goals. Rashford struck the ball well, aiming for simpler finishes, but that didn’t get the crowd jumping which is the aim of Strike Night.
The Strike Night setting was striking and futuristic, and Nike definitely have an interesting show for people who love football and in many ways are bringing back that ‘Joga Bonito’ element they promoted a few years ago.
The judges weren’t afraid to dish out the verbals and criticise players, and Strike Night is an event with an underlining competitive edge, not to mention a fresh way to showcase both players and product.
Hitting the net might have been the aim, but head-over-heels showboating was very much the name of the game, with all the players wanting to outshine each other and become Strike Night Champion.
To round off a memorable night, Santan Dave and AJ Tracey hit the stage followed by Section Boyz in a showdown that was full of energy and hype which is what UK rap is about.
With more events planned, who knows what skills we can expect to see on the Strike Night stage, with rumours that Hazard, Anthony Martial and Kane could potentially feature in the next one.
To catch highlights of Nike’s first Strike Night click here.