“Now that the qualification is official, the realization is sinking in more and more,” Online Season One winner Julien Dassonville told FIFA.com in an exclusive interview. “To participate in the FIWC Grand Final during the real FIFA World Cup in the country of football, Brazil, is something magical.”
Season 1 proved to be incredibly challenge as gamers kicked off their journey to the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2014 Grand Final in Brazil. “The season was exhausting with a lot of experienced players in the competition. It's a huge accomplishment,” said the Frenchman of finishing in first place on the Season 1 Leaderboard.
Much like fellow Season 1 qualifier Ty Walton, Julien was heavily motivated by the chance to be in Brazil for both the virtual and real FIFA World Cups. “Since the FIWC made the announcement of the Grand Final in Rio, it became my priority for this year,” he said. “I have never had the chance to see a World Cup match live. I really hope we will savour every single moment because the 20 qualified players are going to be so lucky.”
Julien’s two outings to the main event have ended with a group stage exit, but the 24 year old pro-gamer from Roncq is keen to make this third appearance a charmed one. “FIWC10 then FIWC12 and now FIWC 2014. It seems that the FIWC smiles to me once every two years,“ he said, “This final will be the best I have ever qualified for. I’ve been there twice and it is a dream for every player. The FIWC is the greatest and the most important tournament I have ever experienced.”
At FIWC 2012 in Dubai, Julien came bitterly close to making it into the knockout stages. After drawing against favourites' Bruce Grannec and Abdulaziz Alsheri, Julien lost 2-1 to Brazilian Samuel Liberato in his final group stage match. The loss knocked him out of the tournament. “This time, I have more experience and I hope I will get a good draw,” said Julien. “Every year I am more confident and I am feeling good for 2014. The most important thing now is the training.”
“I don't think there is a favourite for this kind of competition,” he said. “All these players are the most skilled in the world and they can win the competition, the difference will be a mental one.”
And what does the gamer think of Les Bleus chances in Brazil? “The French team has huge potential I think the team can do something good in this world cup, but the most important thing is to start the competition well and make it past the group phase. If I had to make a prediction, I would say that France will advance to the quarterfinals."
Dassonville's expectations for the Grand Final in Rio de Janeiro are high: "The virtual world cup, the World Championship, people from all over the world, the atmosphere in the stadiums, in the streets. It will be the best FIWC Grand Final since its creation!”