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2024 Foosbowl: The ultimate showdown

By Alex Wauthy

It was an upset for the ages as Etobicoke’s own Ilyas Hussein defeated the daring Daniella Lopez of Burlington, Ont. 8-6 in the 2024 Foosbowl on Jan. 30 at The Eyeopener office. 

Lopez, who has been playing Foosball since she was six years old, strutted into the match with a winner’s mentality. Hussein was playing in his third match ever and was just happy to be there. 

“I’m just happy to be here,” Hussein reiterated repeatedly before, during and after the game. 

“It’s such a special moment, I’m almost speechless”

That simple motto was no more evident than in the opening moments of the foos-brawl. Lopez struck first, much to the expectation of the broadcasters, pundits and fans watching. Unfortunately for her, the Etobicoke product’s happy approach let him shake off the early marker and rattle off four straight while Lopez’s aggressive spins proved futile. 

“I’m speechless,” Lopez said, her expression full of disappointment. “I think maybe I was just too overconfident with my Foosball abilities. Just because I was good in the past doesn’t mean I will be good in the present [or] future. Obviously, that’s what happened today.” 

Hussein’s most visually striking goal came just before halftime. Using his middle-most-left player, he banked the ball along the wall and sent it barreling toward the goal box. The shot weaved through Lopez’s five backfield players, awarding him his fourth goal. 

The Foosers entered the break with five total goals—four to Hussein and a measly one to Lopez. 

“I’ve been watching this sport my entire life, but I was never able to get a Foosball table or play in a Foosball match before joining masthead as sports editor,” Hussein said, his eyes lit up like stars. “So, now being able to have those opportunities, I just studied Daniella Lopez to learn how to get better.”

Hussein continued. “Obviously, she’s the number one ranked player, being able to take her in the final after studying how she played the game and beating her with her own tactics, but developing them with my own strategies—it’s such a special moment, I’m almost speechless.”

The ‘Burlington Beast’ woke from her slumber, jumpstarting the game’s second frame with two goals in quick succession. She cut out the spinning, timing her shots and letting the offence come to her, almost mimicking Hussein’s strategy in the first. 

However, Hussein intelligently stifled her momentum, calling his one-and-only timeout after she cut the lead to one. 

After this timeout, Hussein went back to the basics. He advanced the ball through long stretch passes or simple tic-tac-toe maneuvers to evade Lopez. He quickly got back his two relinquished goals, going up 6-3. 

Flabbergasted by this unexpected turn of events, Lopez unleashed a spinning barrage on Hussein. This yielded so-so results as she notched two more. 

“Just because I was good in the past doesn’t mean I will be good in the present [or] future”

The momentum pendulum persisted to swing as Lopez responded for every inch Hussein gained. However, his four-goal run in the first half proved to be the difference-maker as no team scored more than two consecutive goals post-break. 

Despite a valiant attempt at a comeback with Hussein at match-point, Lopez’s first-half mistakes haunted her. Hussein scored his game-winning eighth goal, winning the Foosbowl and becoming the undisputed 2024 Fooser of the Year. 

“It’s something that I know little old me is going to be proud of to look back on,” Hussein said, reflecting on the match. “[It’s] something I can have on my resume and hold over my fellow co-editor–she’s gonna be sad, and that’s gonna make me happy to be here.”

While Hussein celebrated, people could see Lopez’s eyes watering as reality set in. 

“It was pretty shocking that I lost,” Lopez said. “I was shocked and very sad that I lost. I had high expectations for myself, and I cannot believe I lost against [Hussein].” 

Jan. 30 will be a date that will live in infamy for Lopez. Between Hussein’s first-half siege, putting her on her heels and costly spins sinking her chances, the top dog fell to the bottom of the food chain. 

Looking ahead to next year, amidst the disappointment, Lopez seems to be taking a page out of Hussein’s playbook. 

“I wouldn’t say I’m a sore loser but after that game, I was definitely a sore loser, and I don’t think it’s something I will be able to let go until we have a rematch,” Lopez said. “I’m sorry Burlington, I don’t think I made you proud. I didn’t make my past self proud; my future self will probably not be proud either.”

However, Hussein, who is undoubtedly more than just happy to be here following the result, is unsure if he will compete in next year’s big game.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever play this sport again,” Hussein said. “I’ll have to really think about [it].”  

But for now, he’s just living in what he recognizes as one of the best moments of his life. 

“This is going to go down as the third-highest moment,” Hussein said. “Number one was the one time I accidentally bought almond milk for cheaper at Walmart instead of the two per cent bagged milk. Number two was the day I was born. This is definitely number three.”

UP NEXT: After winning the 2024 Foosbowl, Hussein will consider his future in Foosball. Meanwhile, Lopez turns to the off-season to regroup for 2024-25. Next season is scheduled to begin on Sept. 31, 2024.

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