This is the year for football! No matter what the year. Such is the timeless nature of the beautiful game that any online slot release based on the sport of kings may be released to coincide with a particular sporting event – such as the Football Champions Cup slot, a five reel, 20 payline sporting tour-de-force from Net Entertainment – and nevertheless remain a fans’ favourite for years to come.

Gameplay

Right from the intro we know we are in for a visual and audio treat. The crowd is in full voice as this Champions Cup is set to be decided. A gameplay triumph from the first whistle sees us get to play as any of the teams competing in the Football Champions Cup. As this is game is released in the run up to Euro 2016, the teams are those taking part in that tournament, including teams such as Wales who qualified for its first tournament since the 1958 World Cup and are now immortalised in the gaming world forever.

The game’s high symbols are all football-related and designed as team badges, while the low symbols are more traditional 10s through Aces, though perhaps in hindsight could have been designed as jersey numbers. This tiny gripe aside, NetEnt has done fabulously with the game design and sound score, which never once lets up and delivers us a complete immersive experience. Random Wild Balls bounce sporadically across the reels, switching the action and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, while a Golden Ball is our dedicated Wild symbol and substitutes for all others except Scatters. The Trophy Scatter and Bonus Scatter launch the game’s two bonus features.

Bonuses

The Trophy Scatter launches the game’s main bonus feature – the Free Spins Tournament – when it lands on reels 2, 3 and 4. We now partake in a knockout tournament as our own chosen nation, taking on other teams in the Round of 16, followed by the Quarter Final, Semi-Final and then Final. To progress through the tournament we must score more goals than our opponents by landing more of our Scoring Blue Wilds over our opponents Scoring Red Wilds over five free spins per round. Naturally, all Wilds complete wins during the five spins and all wins add to the feature win pot, as does the coin prize should we finish in the tournament’s top three.

There is no sweeter and more nail-biting victory in a football tournament than scraping through to the next round on the lottery of a penalty shootout. NetEnt have encapsulated this perfectly with the Champions Cup Bonus Game, triggered when we land three Bonus Scatters anywhere across the reels. We must act alternately as both penalty taker and goalkeeper. If we score, we bag coin values; if we save the opposition penalty, we net multipliers. Can we hold our nerve?

Summary

Breathless, imaginative and atmospheric. Just three words to describe NetEnt’s Football Champions Cup. If only NetEnt were available to craft football teams in the same way as they develop slots. They can instead deliver true fantasy football.