Paris, the first stop on the road to London

Paris will provide the venue for the first FIFA 17 Ultimate Team regional final this Saturday, with the top 32 European players from Season 1 competing for eight spots at the FIFA 17 Ultimate Team Championship Final in Berlin from 20-21 May. FIFA.com looks ahead to the competition in the French capital and picks out some of the gamers to watch.

What’s the format? Competitors will be split into two divisions: PS4 and Xbox One, with each division featuring four groups of four players. The top two in each section will advance to the knockout phase, at the end of which the Xbox and PlayStation champions will face off in the final, to be played over two legs, one on each console. The aggregate winner over the two legs will be declared the champion.

Aside from going for the title, the 32 participants will be aiming for a top-four finish in each of the two divisions, which will give them a ticket to Berlin. Joining them there will be the qualifiers from the other Season 1 regional finals in Sydney (11 February) and Miami (19 February) and the Season 2 finals in Vancouver (8 April), Singapore (22 April) and Madrid (6 May).

The Berlin event will be the last stop on the road to the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2017 Grand Final, to be played in London.

Players to watch*Xbox One *The world’s leading gamers will be in Paris, among them Denmark’s August “Agge” Rosenmeier, the FIWC 2014 champion and Paris Saint-Germain star, who will be one of the firm favourites in the Xbox One division. One of his potential opponents there is Spencer “Gorilla” Ealing, a player with whom Rosenmeierhas already had many an epic battle and who is now regarded as one of the best gamers on the planet.

Also worth keeping an eye on is Corentin “Vitality Rocky” Chevrey, who enjoyed an amazing season last year and was crowned French champion in Paris in December, and Harry “Hashtag Harry” Hesketh, who also excelled in 2016.

PlayStation 4 Over in the PlayStation division, much is expected of the experienced Benedikt “SaLz0r” Saltzer, who was in the news in 2015 when he became the first gamer to sign for a major club, in this case VfL Wolfsburg. Also representing the German outfit will be their young two-time national champion Timo “TimoX” Siep.

Ali “II_Bruma_II” Rizaof the Netherlands is another of the divisional favourites, having topped the Weekend League last November, a triumph he will now be looking to back up on the international stage. Also impressive in qualifying were Sweden’s Ivan “BorasLegend” Lapanje and Germany’s Erhan “Dr. Erhano” Kayman, just two of the other players to look out for.

Destination LondonThe key for the Paris 32 and the rest of the regional finalists will be to keep their cool and show nerves of steel as they bid for places at the FIWC 2017 Grand Final: the crowning event on the calendar. Who knows: the successor to reigning FIWC champion Mohamad Al-Bacha, who secured the title in New York last March, could well be among the 32 gamers who will line up in the French capital on Saturday. And you can follow all the action from 9am CET on Saturday, here.