While the ultimate aim for all FIWC competitors is to claim a spot at the Grand Final, and with it a shot at the world title, the FIFA Interactive World Cup is about so much more. In today's 'Share your FIWC story' a gamer, who journeyed to his first ever live qualification event in Prague, reflects on his experience:
“I was really nervous when I started out for Prague, ready to compete against the best players in the Czech Republic for a ticket to the Grand Final. I play FIFA 11 online fairly regularly but I had no idea what to expect from a live event. There was a huge crowd outside the convention centre in the north of Prague before the doors even opened. At 9 o'clock, 304 hopefuls from all over the country passed through the convention doors, each one of us ready to make our Grand Final dreams a reality.
"First thing you have to do at a live event is survive the group stage. In Prague, the group stage consisted of 76 groups comprising four players. I chose Barcelona for my opening game and I faced Chelsea. I didn't know what to expect so I played cautiously. My opponent also opted for this tactic, which didn't make for a great game. He missed a penalty and the match ended 0-0.
"I chose Manchester United for my second match with the intention of playing attacking football. My opponent opted for the superstars of Real Madrid. The Spanish giants got off to a flying start with an early goal. But the score didn't stay that way for long. A few minutes later, Paul Scholes had a clear sight of goal and sent the ball thundering into the net. The remainder of the game was incredibly tense. In stoppage time, Dimitar Berbatov created a one-on-one with the keeper and I scored the winner. My first victory in the tournament! I was so energized by the win that I dared to start dreaming of the Grand Final.
Final group match and full of confidence
"I went into my third and final group stage match with a fresh burst of confidence. With the basic principle of 'never change a winning team' in mind, I chose Manchester United. My opponent opted for Chelsea - a favourite team for many FIWC gamers. The match was a tense encounter with tons of goals. My opponent drew first blood, but I equalised with ease. On the stroke of half-time I made a terrible goalkeeping mistake and my opponent swooped in to score. After the break, I fought my way back to level the game 2-2. It was a tense fight to the finish with a lot of chances on both sides. My opponent turned two chances into goals, winning the match 4-2 and crushing my Grand Final dreams.
I'll be back
"For the rest of the day I played the part of spectator. On the bright side, I finally had enough time to soak up the atmosphere of the event. While epic battles were fought on the consoles there was a huge amount to do and enjoy. You could test your power on a shooting accuracy game and fans could also try out a bunch of new gaming technology in an adjacent hall. From the quarterfinals on, games were broadcast on a huge screen. It was at this point that I realised these players were truly the best in the entire country. In the late evening, I witnessed the Prague final, in which a very impressive Patrik Urbanek marched to victory.
"I made my way home after an eventful and exhausting day. Even though I was knocked out early on, I had nothing but good memories of my time in Prague. The unique atmosphere and unique feeling of going shoulder to shoulder with your opponents was incredible. My Prague knockout made one thing very clear: my FIWC journey is only beginning and I'm definitely going to try my luck at one of the forthcoming tournaments!”