The 32nd and last Grand Finalist will be determined at the FIFA Interactive World Cup Host Nation Qualifier in Seattle on 20 February, setting the stage for the Grand Final in New York City a month later. Major League Soccer side Seattle Sounders are hosting the occasion at THE NINETY, the club’s “cultural hub of soccer and a gathering place for all soccer fans to celebrate the world’s game.”
The 2016 FIWC – the 12th edition of the tournament – marks the first time virtual World Cup is available on both SONY Playstation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One. The Host Nation Qualifier will be played exclusively on the Xbox One.
Xbox is a familiar platform in Seattle, after all the gaming system is the Sounders’ shirt sponsor and Clint Dempsey, the club’s talismanic striker, even featured on the Xbox cover of last year’s EA SPORTS™ FIFA 15 alongside FIFA Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi. And with Microsoft’s headquarters on the other side of Lake Washington from Seattle, it is perhaps no surprise the Sounders squad enjoys a game of FIFA from time to time, including holding midfielder Osvaldo Alonso.
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) February 27, 2014
Despite being relatively new to the Major League Soccer scene – Seattle joined America’s top flight in 2009 – the Sounders in fact have ties to the Pacific Northwest dating back to 1974, making it one of the more historic football clubs in the United States. As the team prepares for its seventh season in MLS, Sounders have gained a prominent reputation in the league for its vibrant fan base and heated rivalries with Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps due to their close proximity.
The eight finalists heading to THE NINETY on Saturday are vying for the coveted last spot in the Grand Final, and they will face tough competition in the instant knockout tournament. But the lucky winner to make it through this Host Nation Qualifier will be one step closer to the $20,000 grand prize – not to mention the exclusive trip to the next Ballon d’Or Gala – on offer at the Grand Final in New York City.