Raptis takes poll position
© FIFA.com

Poland's Marcin Raptis has tasted victory at one of the biggest live qualification events in the history of the FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC). The 17-year-old high school student from Skorzewo beat Cezary Gontarek, last year's Polish runner-up, 1-0 in a closely fought final.

Having won the FIWC09 Live Polish Qualifier event, Marcin is now the eighth global gamer to book his place at the Grand Final, which is to be held in Barcelona on 2 May.

Return to the Arena
For the second year running, Hala Arena in Ursynow, Warsaw staged the FIWC's Polish Qualification Event. The massive turnout and the incredible atmosphere it generated made it clear that the Polish public had been eagerly awaiting the FIWC's return to Warsaw. Huge crowds of gamers queued outside the venue before the doors opened at 8.00 to ensure that they would not to miss out on registration.

A total of 512 players registered for the Polish event, making it an intense tournament for competitors. Even the most experienced gamer would have found competing in the Hala Arena a tough test of their nerves. The atmosphere at the Arena is a perfect example of how unique the FIWC Live Qualifier events are. It is an experience that simply cannot be replicated when gaming comfortably at home on your couch.

"I cannot wait to go to Barcelona for the Grand Final and hopefully win it for Poland!" 
Raptis is ready to face his Grand Final opponents.

"There is so much more pressure at a live event when you know people are watching you play", said the freshly crowned Polish champion. Marcin has also been competing in FIWC09 online qualification. However, now that his seat is booked, the Grand Finalist has his focus set on Spain: "It has been a great experience to compete in this event and I cannot wait to go to Barcelona for the Grand Final and hopefully win it for Poland!" 

Polish Professionals make virtual history
For the first time ever at a FIWC live event, two professional football teams stepped onto a virtual FIWC pitch. The top two teams from the Polish football league - Legia Warszawa and Lech Poznan - swapped the grass of the Polish Army Stadium, where they usually duel, for a ten-against-ten EA SPORTS™ FIFA09 exhibition match.

Legia Warszawa's entire squad arrived to a fantastic reception at Hala Arena. Before long, the Legia first team took their positions. Their rivals Lech Poznan lined up 300 kilometres away at the Multikino cinema in Poznan.

Having lost out to Lech Poznan in the Polish league last year, the Leiga players were out for revenge. They overwhelmed their rivals 7-1 in a highly entertaining exhibition match, much to Marcin's disappointment; the Polish champion is an avid Lech Poznan fan.

"It was great fun to play in such a different type of match," said Maciej Rybus, Legia Warszawa's enterprising midfielder.

Fun for all
The contenders were not the only ones having fun; there was also plenty of other entertainment throughout the day with players and spectators able to try out EA SPORTS™ and PlayStation's latest game titles in the HD chill-out lounge, win prizes in the adidas Speed Gun activity, and enjoy on-stage performances from beatboxers, Project Halas and cheerleaders, Axel.

The FIWC's next stop is Rome for the Italy Live Qualifier before heading to the Stade Du Suisse next weekend for the Swiss Live Qualification Event.

All the latest FIWC news and event details can be found on www.FIFA.com/FIWC.