ELF Championship Game: Vienna Vikings take on the Hamburg Sea Devils in a clash of titans

Today, the Vienna Vikings will take on the Hamburg Sea Devils in Klagenfurt, Austria, in the second ever European League of Football Championship Game.

As part of the run up to the Championship game, AFI’s Alex Malchow and Daniel Mackenzie broke down each team and the matchups in the new AFI podcast, Cover 7.

There is little doubt that the two best teams have made the final with both finishing the season as the number one and two seed after a dominant season and playoff performances.

But despite the two’s closeness in ranking, they are a world apart in their play style. Hamburg are a run-first (-second and -third) team who rely on their defense to keep the score low. 

Vienna on the other hand is a diverse team all about getting the ball out quickly and attacking different parts of the field before launching it long.

The Sea Devils have ridden the quarterback carousel this year with German quarterbacks Salieu Ceesay and Moritz Maack rotating throughout the second half of the season. But with running back Glen Toonga getting 30+ carries per game, the two quarterbacks have effectively taken it in turns to hand the ball off.

During the playoff game however, Maack suffered a shoulder injury, and the team will now have to rely solely on Ceesay. Ceesay finished the regular season with 1,500 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions; it is worth noting that 300 yards and four of those touchdowns came in their 70-0 demolition of the Istanbul Rams.

The two pristine aspects of the team though have without a doubt been the rushing game and their defense as a whole. Both lead the league in their respective categories and are absolutely dominant, brutally bulldozing through opponents and into the Championship game, losing only one game this season.

The Vikings have had an equally dominant season but have approached each game with a different strategy. This has been made possible by the sheer number of weapons on the team and an outstanding level of consistency across all positions.

Leading the team has been Jackson Erdmann as the signal caller who sits comfortably as the league’s fifth best passer. But it has been the likes of the Wegan brothers, Florian and Anton, at running back and Jordan Bouah at wideout who have propelled the team to greatness.

They are backed up by the second best defense in the league who boast an extremely underrated front-seven, featuring players such as Thomas Schnurrer and Leon Balogh, who are supported by a stout secondary.

The game will undoubtedly be won and lost in the trenches with both teams relying heavily on their front seven and running game. If this is the case, Hamburg may have the edge as they just seem to do it better than anyone else. If both do a good enough job at containing each other’s run game and force the other to throw however, things will likely start to go in favor of the Vikings.

Either way, the Championship game will almost certainly shape up to be one the best contests in European football this year, and it will be on the biggest stage of all.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.