The FIFA Interactive World Cup is now the largest gaming tournament in the world but, as with all great success stories, the competition emerged from humble beginnings. Today, we take you on a journey through FIWC history, starting with the very first edition of the FIFA Interactive World Cup.
The inaugural FIWC Live qualification event took place in 2004 at the tip of the African continent. South Africa had just won the bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ making Johannesburg the perfect place to launch the first ever FIFA Interactive World Cup. Back then, qualification for the FIWC Grand Final was only possible via regional qualification tournaments. While today's participants hail from every corner of the globe, just a few thousands players from nine different countries competed for the inaugural FIWC crown.
Brazilian crowned inaugural FIWC champ
As with every tournament, the first edition of the FIWC concluded with the Grand Final, which was staged at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland. Eight finalists fought it out to become the maiden FIWC champion, with Thiago Carrico de Azevedo of Brazil emerging victorious and earning the chance to see mingle amongst his idols at the FIFA World Player Gala.
Today's gamers may imitate the skills of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi but for Thiago the world's best was Ronaldinho. "I can't wait to get up on the same stage as Ronaldinho. He's one of my heroes," said Thiago, after winning the final in Zurich. The first FIWC champion got even more than he bargained for as he watched Ronaldinho crowned the world's best player in 2004!
2005 and 2006: The year of the local heroes
The second Grand Final in 2005, held in London, brought together the ten best gamers in the world. Local boy Chris Bullard made the most of home advantage to secure the coveted trophy. The following year also produced a home-grown winner, with Dutch whizz Andries Smit victorious at the 2006 edition in Amsterdam.
Tradition continues in 2008
The number of participants at the FIWC has risen year on year and in 2008 the figure had already reached 28,000. The best 32 were invited to compete in the Grand Final. A staggering 20,000 spectators at the Sony Centre in Berlin watched the event. Alfonso Ramos' victory ensured he became the first Spaniard to lift the trophy, continuing the tradition of different winners from different countries in every year since the tournament's inception.
Half a million players in 2009
The introduction of online qualification seasons for FIWC saw the number of participants boom to over half-a-million in 2009. The 2009 Grand Final, held in Barcelona, capped off a fantastic season. Beach soccer, cheerleaders, freestylers and DJs ensured that there was plenty of action to be enjoyed both on and off the virtual pitch in Barcelona. Frenchman Bruce Grannec walked away with the title after defeating Mexico's Ruben Zerecero 3-1 in an unforgettable final. But, anyone thinking 2009 could not be topped in terms of entertainment had a big surprise heading their way the following year.
Records shattered in 2010
2010 was undoubtedly the most spectacular year in the history of the FIWC. An incredible 775,000 gamers helped the tournament cement its place in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest gaming tournament on earth. The 11,000 spectators at the Grand Final in Barcelona also made for an impressive backdrop!
The extraordinary sequence of six different winners from six different countries continued in the sixth edition of the FIFA Interactive World Cup, with American Nenad Stojkovic claiming the coveted prize in 2010.
What does the FIWC future hold?
Will a newcomer triumph in this year's tournament, or can Nenad Stojkovic become the first player in the history of the FIWC to defend his title? Who do you think will emerge victorious? Let us know your opinions by using the 'Add your comment' section at the bottom of the page!