If you are a football fan, then you will be well aware that this summer the 2018 World Cup Finals will take place in Russia. A total of 32 nations will battle it out through an initial group stage and then a knockout competition to decide which team can claim to be the World Champions.
Last time out in Brazil 2014, Germany came out on top defeating Argentina in the final 1-0 after extra time and the fact that the tournament is contested just once every four years, makes it all the more special to win.
Whenever a big football tournament takes place you will usually find that there is a slot game or two released in conjunction with it and Pragmatic Play have done just that with their new The Champions slot. Although not expressly stated, this is based on the 2018 World Cup Finals, with the 32 teams competing in the event all represented in the game.
With the option of being able to select which of the 32 teams available you want to root for (your selection will determine some of the colors and symbols used in the game, which will be transformed to represent the colors of your chosen team), the game also has some neat personalisation in, which is always a positive.
So, is this game going to be a World Cup Winner, or will it fail to get out of the group stage? Let's take a closer look and find out more about it and where best to play it.
Where can I play The Champions slot?
If you are looking for a place to play The Champions slot while the World Cup is in progress, or indeed at any point in time, then the best place to head to play this slot, and many others from Pragmatic Play is Spartan Slots Casino.
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The presentation of The Champions slot is customizable to a certain extent. By that, what happens when you load up the slot is that you are presented with a selection of 32 international teams and you can select which one of the teams you want to support when you play. Each team plays in their choice of colors and these colors and kits are then incorporated into the game, for example, the team shirt symbol becomes the colors of your chosen team.
It's a small but nice touch which adds a little extra personalization to the slot. There is a musical accompaniment with the game, but it is a rather short looped piece of music that quickly starts to grate a little on the nerves. However, clicking the Spin button kicks off a rather more interesting musical backdrop complete with added football sound effects which is a nice touch.
The setting of the game is a football stadium, which is floodlit and the reels are center stage on the pitch. This has been done before of course on pretty much every sports slot game you can find, so its perhaps unsurprising that Pragmatic Play have erred on the site of caution in their presentation.
What's on the reels?
There are essentially two standard symbol types on the reels in The Champions slot. The first are the playing card low symbols, these are the Queen, King and Ace and they offer pay outs from a fifth of your total bet up to 4x your total bet. Which are not great value returns.
I'm also disappointed to see playing card low symbols used, when there are so many other football-related symbols that could have been used to make the game more immersive for players.
Higher value symbols include a referee's whistle, goalkeeping gloves, football boots, a football shirt and a soccer ball (which also has a role in one of the games key features as we will find out below). These symbols offer wins from 0.6x your bet up to a maximum win of 20x your total bet.
These wins don't sound particularly huge but there is a way you can increase them massively using one of the key features of the game as you can discover in the sections below.
There is one Wild symbol in the game and this is the trophy symbol with the legend The Champions written in front of it. This symbol can substitute for any of the symbols outlined above and when it does it can help land winning lines. However, no multiplier is applied to any Wild wins.
You can however land some bigger value wins (including the biggest win available on the reels in standard play) by landing three or more Wilds across a line. This will pay out 3.2x, 20x or 40x your total bet depending on whether you land three, four or five Wilds on the line.
Free Spins features
The only other symbol on the reels is the Bonus symbol and this is the word Bonus behind a diamond shaped flag of the colors of the country you selected when starting the slot.
Now this symbol does not offer you access to a Free Spins game. Instead, once you trigger three or more of the bonus symbols across the reels, you get to participate in a the Penalty Shots Bonus Game.
In this feature, you get five penalty shots. On each shot, you have a choice of four targets. The player then picks a target, if this results in a goal then you increase the size of your win in the bonus round. If a goal is not scored, then your win stays at the same level.
With five penalties to take, you can score between one and five penalties during the bonus and the amount you win for each is outlined below:
Other bonus features
The other main bonus feature of the slot is the Momentum Progressive game, which sounds a bit of a mouthful, but it simply means that on each spin, you have a special target visible on screen. You can then move that target to highlight any of the 15 different positions available on the reel.
The aim for the target is for you to land a football symbol in the target. If you do, then you score a goal and you will receive 10 spins (not free) where you have a multiplier attached to those wins. There are ten levels of multiplier which you can access by scoring goals within the 10 spins allocated to you when you first trigger the multiplier.
The default Level 1 base game multiplier is 1x, but for each goal scored you can move up to Level 11 and with each goal scored, your multiplier value increases by 2, up to a maximum of a 20x multiplier if you can reach Level 11.
If you fail to score a goal within the 10 spins you receive when a you score a goal, then the multiplier resets back to 1x. The nice touch about this feature is that it triggers relatively frequently, so you always have something to look forward to when playing the base game.
Best feature of The Champions slot
For me, the best feature of the Champions Slot isn't the main Penalty Kick bonus feature as I think it is probably a little too hard to hit and the chances of you landing the really big multiplier prizes seem to be small. Instead, I think the Momentum Progressive Game is the best feature of the slot as it triggers regularly, allows you to climb through the multipliers and can reward you with some very decent base game wins, which do make the slot far more accessible and affordable.
What does The Champions slot lack?
The obvious thing that this slot lacks is a Free Spins bonus game and indeed, I feel that it would have been a much more enjoyable game with one. I do admire Pragmatic Play for coming up with a bonus game that relates to the football theme though, and the Penalty Bonus is a decent offering if you can trigger it, but if you are a slot player, the reward you really want is Free Spins and I think the game suffers a little due to a lack of them.
The Champions slot is one that Pragmatic Play will be proud of and while it boasts some great features, notably the Momentum Progressive Game and the Penalty Bonus, I feel a lack of Free Spins and also the somewhat dire music that plays in between spins, really do drag the game down a little. The personalization of the slot is a nice touch and is sure to appeal to football fans and the bonus features will also appeal seeing as they are based on a soccer theme. It's a good slot, but I think with just a little bit more thought and planning, it could have been a great one.
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