Vienna Vikings crowned 2022 European League of Football Champions

The Vienna Vikings have been crowned the European League of Football (ELF) Champions for the 2022 season following their 27-15 victory over the Hamburg Sea Devils.

This year’s final approached with much anticipation as not only was the final for the first time outside of Germany in neighboring Austria, but also due to the stark contrasts between both the Vikings and Sea Devils.

The Vikings on the one hand had a fully loaded arsenal of weaponry from which they could attack teams at any angle. Their one downside was that they were not league leaders in any one category and could potentially find themselves being overwhelmed if they went toe to toe.

But fortunately for the Vikings, they were led by the stalwart, tenured coaching of Chris Calaycay who schemed and prepared like no other, rarely putting them in any other position than a winning one. And the ELF championship was no different.

Vienna Vikings RB Exavier Edwards finds running room Photo: Sarah Philipp

Sitting across from the Vikings were the polar opposite Sea Devils. Hamburg spent the entire season beating up opponents with savage down-hill running from Glen Toonga and the stingiest defense in the league. 

The Sea Devils’ one hang up, which was made very evident in the final, was that if someone took away Toonga’s long gashing rushes, they were left relying on a poor passing game.

The individual to neuter Hamburg’s rushing attack was Mr. Austria himself, Thomas Schnurrer. The 28-year-old Austrian played sideline to sideline, holding Toonga to just 46 yards in the entire game.

Additionally, Hamburg uncharacteristically struggled to deal with Vienna’s receiving core who ripped off chunk plays at a time. 

Vienna Vikings WR Kimi Linnainmaa getting tripped up Photo: Sarah Philipp

Kimi Linnainmaa played the biggest part in this and ended the game with 125 yards off of seven receptions. Linnainmaa even kicked the game’s first score off with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Adria Botella Moreno off an end-around.

The Vikings continued to gradually tick the scoreboard over. It was the arm of Hamburg quarterback Salieu Ceesay who managed the first score for the Sea Devils after Toonga’s apparent lack of production.

But dominance from Vienna in the second quarter left Hamburg chasing the game in the second half, a task they were unable to accomplish with Ceesay being forced to carry the game on his shoulders.

Despite a 27-15 scoreline, as opposed to Vienna, the Sea Devils never really looked “in the game” the way they had all season, controlling the tempo, time of possession and scoring. It was only sheer determination and talent that kept Hamburg in it towards the end.

There was never any doubt that the two best teams in the league reached the final, but at the end of the day it was Vienna’s ability to adapt that gave them the edge and their first ever ELF championship in their first ever ELF season.

Sea Devils WR Lamar Jordan II finds the end zone Photo: Sarah Philipp

With the addition of four teams next year, ELF is growing and growing fast. The likes of Vienna and Hamburg will likely remain as some of the league’s best with prosperous grassroots programs and heavy investment. 

The day surely belongs to Vienna, but it is unlikely that this is the last we have heard from the Sea Devils.

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.