For fans of the FIFA Interactive World Cup, January is an important milestone on the virtual football calendar. Firstly, it marks the traditional end of online qualification for the FIWC Grand Final, and secondly, it signals the reigning FIFA Interactive World Cup champion's visit to the FIFA Ballon d’Or.

Since 2004, it has been an annual tradition for the FIWC champion to travel to Zurich to attend the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala as a special guest. In Zurich, the FIWC champion gets to mingle behind the scenes with the world’s greatest players before eventually taking his seat among the lucky few that get to watch the Ballon d’Or ceremony live in Zurich’s Kongresshaus.

A night spent in the company of the worlds’ greatest players is just a part of the Grand prize afforded to an FIWC Champion. The winner of the Grand Final also receives USD 20,000 in prize money. You can relive the visits to the FIFA Ballon d'Or by our past world champions by clicking on the videos located to the right of this article.

Alshehri focused on Zurich
In just a few days, reigning FIWC champion Abdulaziz Alshehri will land in Zurich for the FIFA Ballon d’or. Finally, after his victory in Munich back in May 2015, Alshehri gets to experience the reward that millions of gamers compete for: a night in the company of football’s biggest stars.

“Right now the most important thing is to prepare myself for the Ballon d’Or and right after that I’ll start preparing for the Grand Final,” the champion told The FIWC 2016 Grand Final takes place in New York from 20 to 22 March. At the Grand Final, Alshehri hopes to become the first ever champion to successfully defend the interactive world title. ”History can be made,” said the Saudi Arabian. “Can I be the first back-to-back-champion… that question has been on my mind from the moment I left Munich with the title.”

Three online seasons, 30 qualified finalists
With all three qualification seasons for FIWC 2016 now complete, 30 gamers have secured their places alongside the defending champion. Only one seat remains to be filled for New York 2016, that of the winner of the Host Country Live Qualification event which will take place in the USA in the coming weeks. We will be revealing all the Grand Finalists for FIWC 2016 soon on Until then, be sure to visit on 11 January to follow the FIFA Ballon d’Or live!