Meet Mpear11 (Michael Pearson), sales manager at a car dealership in Ottawa, Ontario Canada. He and his pal 'JJ' are heading to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ after winning the inaugural season of the World Leagues Predictor. Consistent and relentless in his pursuit of the grand prize, Mike spoke to FIFA. com about his secrets, his partner in picking, their passion for football and hopes for the next season.
The second season begins in August and, if you make good predictions right and follow the champion's lead, you might be the next one headed for the first African finals to roar on your favourite team. Remember, you can't win if you don't play.
FIFA.com: Did you enlist the help of some friends in making
Mike Pearson: My friend JJ and I played every round together from the start. He is a huge supporter of Nottingham Forest and I support Newcastle United. I have to say as well, we both became big fans of the Central Coast Mariners in the Australian A-League. We never would have been exposed to them if not for the Predictor game!
JJ - who will be coming with me to South Africa - and I always did our homework. There was some luck, but I think that the time we took trying to find trends really paid off. At first, we were just trying to be competitive, but once we realised we had a realistic shot, we discussed every game.
We couldn't have done it without the support of our families, especially my wife Lena and JJ's wife Jennifer.
What was your secret to such consistently good
We think that the game turned on our knowledge of the 'rest of the world' leagues, not so much the European ones. Most players knew the major European leagues fairly well. With predictions required on Australian, South African, Argentine, Brazilian, MLS, Korean, Japanese, and other world leagues, I think those were the picks that helped us win it all. We always had fun with it. No matter what, we were always laughing and enjoying the selection process.
Are you a huge football fan? How did you get into the game?
Being Canadian, soccer has not enjoyed the exposure here that it does in the rest of the world. JJ and I both grew to love the game based on learning and appreciating the finer points of it.
My daughters are both fortunate to play youth soccer with the Ottawa Fury Soccer Club, which is one of the best Canadian clubs. The more I have watched and learned, the more I appreciate the beauty of the game. I also do the stadium announcing for the Ottawa Fury W-League team, one of the top ranked women's teams in the world. My son, who is autistic, also loves to kick a ball around too.
Were you confident you'd win the grand prize coming
down the stretch or were there some nervy moments?
Our approach to the game was always simple. We didn't really care how we finished each round, as long as we stayed close to the leaders and were consistent. The goal of this game is not to finish first overall in Rounds 1-30. It is to finish first overall in Round 31. The FIFA.com article that was written about us when we hit number-one was titled 'Slow and steady wins the race?' This was very apt. People get lucky and hit all ten predictions once in a while. But for us, to average 250-260 points each and every week for 31 weeks was the formula that won it. Next season we will have to be even better.
We were always nervous about the other players. There were such good predictors from all around the world that we really didn't feel comfortable until we saw the picks in the final round. There were a number of weeks in the last seven when we were nervous, but somehow we always managed to extend our lead each week, even if it was only a couple of dozen points.
Do you think you'll be able to defend your title in
season two, which begins in August?
With the experience of winning, we want to do it again, to prove again that Canadians are just as knowledgeable about soccer as the rest of the world. I think it was fantastic that three of the top seven predictors were Canadian, and I hope that others took note of that as well. But we know the competition will be even fiercer next season. We think we'll have a good shot again next time out, now that we really understand the game.
Your winning season now has you jetting off to the FIFA
World Cup in South Africa. Will this be your first World Cup
JJ and I both were fortunate enough to attend the U-20 World Cup when it was hosted in Canada last year. We were able to see teams like Argentina and Brazil play here in Ottawa. As for the World Cup itself, this will be our first time. We are unbelievably excited!
What do you think the chances are of the Canadian national
team following your lead and qualifying for South Africa
Canada is slowly becoming a quality footballing nation on the men's and women's sides, and should they make the World Cup, we would be absolutely thrilled to be there supporting them.