There were a lot of firsts on Day 1 of the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2016 Grand Final. For the first time in FIWC history, the event was streaming every single match from Day 1. All group stage matches took place across eight consoles, and each gaming system had its own dedicated live stream. And for the first time, the tournament included both PlayStation®4 and Xbox One consoles, indicating the new heights the world’s largest gaming tournament has reached in 2016.
So it was fitting that the venue for the first day of this year’s competition was on the classy rooftop lounge of Skylark in the middle of midtown Manhattan in New York City. The question leading into Day 1 was: who would deal with the pressure of an unprecedented FIWC the best?
Group phase highlights
Groups A-D, PlayStation®4
One of the prevailing discussion points coming out of Sunday’s group stage draw was how tough Group A was, that with FIWC 2014 champion August Rosenmeier and experienced 2012 semi-finalist Giuseppe Guastella. And with all the hype, Group A delivered, but perhaps not how everyone expected. Swedish player Ivan Lapanje's 2-1 win over Rosenmeier was the defining match of the group as he edged Rosenmeier's Brazil playing with Portugal. That win was pivotal for Lapanje, seeing him through to the Round of 16, while it was Guastella who did enough to advance through to the knockout stages, which meant Rosenmeier would not get the chance to defend his 2014 title.
Groups E-H, Xbox One
Going into the group stages on the Xbox One side of the draw, a couple of players were aware of the strength of their pool. "My draw's quite a tough one," said Sean Allen. "I know two of the three players and they're both very good players. I've probably got the hardest group out of all of them, but I'm confident enough to get through and maybe go on and win the whole thing." Allen's confidence helped him top Group G with France's Dylan Bance in second.
Round of 16 highlights
Lapanje, playing with Brazil, then faced Benedikt Saltzer, who played with Argentina in the Round of 16. A surprise was perhaps Bance's win over Michael Bittner after the German had such a strong group phase, winning all of his matches en route to the second round. Another highlight from the Round of 16 was the all-English tie between Allen and Ty Walton, which ended in a dramatic 4-2 extra time win for Allen.
Round of 16 results
Ivan Lapanje (SWE) 2-1 Benedikt Saltzer (GER)
Michael Ribeiro (USA) 4-0 Emiliano Ruiz (MEX)
Mohamad Al-Bacha (DEN) 2-0 Giuseppe Guastella (USA)
Johann Simon (FRA) 1-0 Demetri Anastasiou (ENG)
Michael Bittner (GER) 1-4 Dylan Bance (FRA)
Khalid Aloufi (KSA) 1-1 (2-3 PST) Irving Velazquez (MEX)
Sean Allen (ENG) 4-2 Ty Walton (ENG)
Rodrigo Araujo (BRA) 2-0 Kevin Assia (GER)
The first last-eight match of the day saw Lapanje, playing with Portugal, continue a theme by coming from behind to defeat his opponent, this time in a 2-1 win against USA's Michael Ribeiro, who played with Brazil. Bance and Irving Velazquez then played in a match billed as the battle of the veterans. Bance regrouped from a 4-0 loss in the group stage and was riding high on momentum from his 4-1 Round of 16 win over Bittner, and it showed as he scored in the fourth minute and from the penalty spot six minutes before full-time to secure a 2-0 win to advance to the semi-finals.
Mohamad Al-Bacha came into his match against Simon with a great deal of confidence having not conceded a goal, and his match-winning strike was definitely a goal-of-the-day nominee as he showed a neat piece of skill close to goal to evade the defender and score. The last quarter-final of the day was easily the most exciting and the highest scoring. Allen took an early 2-0 lead only to see it his lead slip when Rodrigo Araujo scored two quick goals to equalise. However, Allen was able to regroup and he eventually won a 5-3 thriller to progress to the semi-finals, which will be an all-European Final Showdown.
Michael Ribeiro (USA) 1-2 Ivan Lapanje (SWE)
Johann Simon (FRA) 0-1 Mohamad Al-Bacha (DEN)
Irving Velazquez (MEX) 0-2 Dylan Bance (FRA)
Rodrigo Araujo (BRA) 3-5 Sean Allen (ENG)
Ivan Lapanje (SWE)
Dylan Bance (FRA)
Mohamad Al-Bacha (DEN)
Sean Allen (ENG)
It is time to crown the FIWC 2016 champion, the first to ever be decided on both of the world’s leading gaming consoles. The Final Showdown will take place tomorrow and will be live streamed from 18:00-22:00 EST on FIFA.com and FIFATV on YouTube. Be sure to get involved on social media and get all the coverage you need on The FIFA Interactive World Cup on Facebook and @FIWC on Twitter, too!
Who will win the FIWC 2016? We will not know until Tuesday evening, but we do know it will be a first for someone.