All-star games have long become an enjoyable tradition in many team sports. So, it is impossible to imagine North American leagues without them. They followed in their footsteps in the KHL. But domestic football has bypassed the trend until recently. However, the RFU decided to organize something similar in relation to the Russian Cup.

Last year, for the first time, the tournament's All-Star Game took place, in which the teams of the RPL Path and the Path of the Regions met. The victory was won by representatives of the elite division. But most importantly, the experiment was recognized as a success and it was decided to hold the event again.

This time, it was organized on an even larger scale. For example, Ivan Oblyakov (CSKA), Danil Krugovoy (Zenit), Nair Tiknizyan and Sergei Pinyaev (both Lokomotiv), Nikita Krivtsov (Krasnodar), Edgar Sevikyan (Nizhny Novgorod) and others were included in the RPL squad. Quincy Promes was also supposed to arrive, but he couldn't because of illness.

And the coaching staff included Oleksandr Mostovoy, Serhiy Ovchinnikov and Andriy Arshavin. In honor of the nickname Tsar, the first one even had a special robe and crown made, in which he appeared in front of the fans.

"I found out that I would take to the field in a gown and with a crown on my head only on the day of the meeting, literally 15 minutes before the start. On the one hand, I took the joke in stride. On the other hand, I don't like to show myself off. Probably, in this way they paid tribute to me for my long path in football. But at the end it was already a little hot," Mostovoy admitted.

The rivals were led by Dmitry Kuznetsov, who manages one of the strongest teams in the 2DROTS Media League, as well as Andrey Karyaka and Vadim Evseev. Several representatives of 2DROTS and Amkal also found a place in the roster: Vladislav "Slon" Oslonovsky, Anatoly Katrich, Nikita Dubchak, Godfred "Gaucho" Klutsey. Of course, this attracted additional interest to the event.

But the most representative was the composition of the judges, who had to evaluate the participants of the challenges. It includes former football players of the Russian national team Vladimir Bystrov and Dmitry Sychov, ex-coach of CSKA and the national team Valery Gazzaev, President of the Russian Basketball Federation Andrey Kirilenko, two-time world champion in figure skating Evgenia Medvedeva, Olympic champion in artistic gymnastics Angelina Melnikova, singer Irakli and even famous MMA fighters Oleg Taktarov and Jeff Monson.

And a separate gift for the audience was an autograph session with the participation of Medvedeva and CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev. The mascots of all the clubs participating in the competition were also gathered in Skolkovo. Before the meeting, they even danced to the song "Dreamer" by Yaroslav Evdokimov.

The confrontation itself was preceded by bright contests. And the very first one, "On the Target", in which it was necessary to hit the targets installed in the perimeter of the goal and score points, presented a sensation. Oblyakov, Pinyaev and Alexei Meleshin took only 15 points, while their opponents took 41. A clear example of how to perform such shots was tried to be taught to them by Bystrov, who entered the field, but he himself failed to hit. On the other hand, Tsar Mostovoy immediately knocked out the "three".

The gap at the end of Pinball was slightly reduced – 54:32. Here the players had to take the ball on their chest and send it to specially installed holes. Krugovoy and Krivtsov coped with this task once (and the Krasnodar midfielder did not look at the projectile), but Tiknizyan did not. Kirilenko was convinced of how difficult this exercise is from personal experience. A former NBA player tried to hit a basketball but was unsuccessful. Failure also befell Arshavin.

The challenges were concluded by the Keeper Battle contest for goalkeepers. However, they did not have to deal with direct duties, but to demonstrate the skills of the field. Evgeny Frolov and Nikita Medvedev left no chance to Oleg Baklov and Vladimir Mukhin. Representatives of the RPL scored for every taste. The Rostov player was especially zealous, who scored both a chest goal and a mocking blow to the "house" of his colleague. At some point, the places on the last line were completely taken by mascots, which amused those present a lot. Barsik was even able to deflect a couple of shots. But the Path of Regions team was still stronger in the challenges — 57:38.

But on the battlefield it was not felt. From the first seconds it became clear that there was no question of a game of giveaway. The RPL Path team intended to demonstrate their advantage in class, and the Path of the Regions team intended to snap the nose of the favourite.

The difference in skill level was striking. The Premier League stars carried out one sharp attack after another, enjoying what was happening, and regularly upset Baklov. Kryvtsov deceived the goalkeeper with a spectacular feint with his heel and made a somersault. And then Oblyakov, throwing a projectile between the legs of his vis-à-vis, gave the fans a reason for applause.

Kirill Malyarov opened the scoring, beautifully removing Baklov on a swing. Pinyaev simply had no right not to distinguish himself, who went into a solo run from his own half, as if in an official meeting, and shot into the far corner. Moreover, even Frolov showed himself in attack. Apparently, having taken part in the Cyperbattle, he got a boost of confidence. In one of the episodes, the goalkeeper took the field and made a neat backheel pass to Meleshin.

Kuznetsov's men responded with only three goals of their own shortly before the break, but they were not going to give up. And in the second half, they really managed to revive the intrigue.

However, it started with an unexpected episode. The mascot of Novorossiysk Chornomorets, a shark, clearly dissatisfied with the course of the confrontation, jumped out onto the pitch and tried to help the players. But the chief referee Sergey Karasev did not approve of the animal's act and, according to the letter of the rules, removed the offender.

Players of both teams tried to take the shark off the field, which caused a comic brawl. In the end, the sea beast grabbed the ball and threw it into the net with his hands. The goal was not counted, but Frolov took off his gloves and decided to put on his fins. Surprisingly, the change of ammunition helped, as Evgeny conceded only twice and made a lot of saves.

As for the game itself, the RPL Path team clearly slowed down and did not seek to increase the lead in the score. Only Krugovoy managed to make a mark in the protocol after the break. Plus, Malyarov really wanted to score through himself, but did not succeed.

But the team of the Path of Regions almost escaped in the end. They were helped by the red ball used in media football. There, any goal he scores counts as two. Here, too, Maxim Turishchev scored a brace. A few minutes before the final whistle, Mykyta Dubchak reduced the gap to a minimum – 7:9. Another accurate shot turned the match into a penalty shootout.

But Frolov in shark gloves did not allow himself to be upset any more. Karasev's whistle recorded the victory of the representatives of the elite division. However, there were no losers that evening. The main thing is that all those present, including the fans, enjoyed themselves. And the tradition of holding All-Star Games will now surely finally take root in domestic football.