For Mexican Andrei Torres Vivero, the Grand Final of the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2013 in Madrid earlier this month will live long in the memory. And it not just because he finished runner-up to Frenchman Bruce Grannec and picked up the not-inconsiderable prize of $5,000 USD, but also because of what happened in almost the last kick of the game.
The 23-year-old, in what was his first participation in the tournament, found himself trailing 1-0 with 89 minutes on the clock. It was then that Vivero managed to do something that only a tiny number of gamers had done this year, namely unlock Grannec’s watertight Real Madrid defence.
Playing as Brazil, the Mexican orchestrated some slick interplay down the right, culminating in a delightful cutback for the onrushing Hulk. Latching onto the ball no more than ten yards out, and with the goalkeeper stranded, the striker comfortably side-footed it low… and wide!
“Like everyone else who was here, I thought he’d equalised. My heart genuinely skipped a beat,” Grannec would later tell FIFA.com. For his part, Vivero could only agree with his opponent, saying in a measured and soft-spoken voice: “I can’t work out what happened. I crossed it low so the defender couldn't cut the ball out and I thought it worked quite well. But when I saw the effort go wide, I regretted not having taken a shot with the player who made the cross. It was so disappointing!”
The miss left spectators speechless in the packed Goya Theatre and ensured Grannec would hold on for the narrowest of victories. For the proud runner-up, there was at least the consolation of leaving the stage to a huge round of applause from an appreciative audience.
“Half of me is thrilled to have reached the final, the other half disappointed to have lost. This is my first participation and I’ve shown I can be a great player,” said the Mexican, who had bounced back from a 5-0 defeat at the hands of the eventual champion in the group phase.
“I wanted to take him by surprise and go on the offensive, as I know everyone sets out to defend when they play him,” said Vivero. “That’s why I opted to play as Barcelona with just three at the back [in our first encounter]."
"However, Grannec then went and slaughtered me on the break,” he recalled with a laugh. “The final was a much more even affair because I more cautious. Brazil are a more balanced side, which is why I think I restricted him to one goal.”
Accompanied by his coach, Vivero came into the Grand Final in Madrid very much under the radar. With none of the clamour generated by the perennial favourites for the crown, the Mexican recorded four wins and two defeats in the opening round to book his place in the quarter-finals.
“I believed in my own game, although I didn’t train a great deal as I’m finishing my studies and have to dedicate a lot of time to that,” the gamer said. “As I see it, playing a lot of games is not what matters most. Even if you don’t train that much, what matters is taking on the best players. Doing that is enough.”
And he should know. This fan of Carlos Vela’s side Real Sociedad is part of a team of gamers that represent Mexico at various tournaments, although he openly admits his real passion is psychology.
“You never know what the future holds but I hope to qualify soon and practice this profession. I’d even like to combine both things, maybe as a coach or motivator for players at these tournaments. I could tell them about my experiences and this final,” he said with a hint of regret.
Asked as our chat came to an end if he was referring to his runner-up spot, Vivero replied: “No, no… I mean that last move of the game. It’s something that will stay with me all my life!"