- Daniele 'Prinsipe' Paolucci prevailed in the FUT Champions Season 2 Europe regional final in Madrid
- He surprised everyone with his poise, attacking firepower and resolute defending
- 'Prinsipe' will be the sole Italian representative at the FIFA 17 Ultimate Team Championship in Berlin (19-20 May)
Before the action got underway in Madrid on 6 May, the bulk of the attention was on a number of veterans and household names in the field, including some who had suffered disappointment in the Season 1 final in Paris. No-one had tipped Daniele 'Prinsipe' Paolucci as a contender – not even the 21-year-old himself. "I didn't actually believe I could do it beforehand," he told FIFA.com. "At the beginning of the tournament, I hoped to go far, but it was only as the matches went by that I realised I could win it, because I was playing really well."
As it was, there was something almost routine about the Italian's eventual victory, such was his dominance in the PlayStation 4 division before he outplayed Spencer 'Gorilla' Ealing, the winner of the Xbox One section, in the two-legged title decider. Despite being the competition's leading scorer with 29 goals, the most eye-catching aspect of his displays was undoubtedly his defensive prowess. "My defending is my biggest strength," he said. "I train hard to constantly improve it, because as the saying goes, 'defence is the best form of attack'."
Some might counter that attack is actually the best form of defence, but whatever the case may be, Paolucci's words epitomise the methodical approach and doggedness underlying his knack of nullifying even the most dangerous opponents. They do not come much more dangerous than former world champion August 'Agge' Rosenmeier, whom he impressed in a training match a few days after his exploits in Madrid, where the pair did not square off:
We now know the identity of all 32 players who will be contesting the FIFA 17 Ultimate Team Championship in Berlin. Among them are the six winners of the regional finals staged across the globe in recent months, including 'Prinsipe', of whom much will be expected in the German capital. "My aim will be just to keep progressing through the rounds. We'll see how it goes, but I'll do my best to replicate my performances in Madrid. Here's hoping I have a good tournament."
There is one thing for sure: if this relatively new kid on the block clinches one of the tickets to the FIWC 2017 Grand Final that will be up for grabs in Berlin, or even tastes glory again, it will be the fruit of plenty of old-fashioned hard work. As he explained, he is now able to devote himself to eSports more diligently than ever: "I recently signed a professional contract, so now I get paid to play. I usually spend the morning making YouTube videos and then I train in the afternoon." As he suggested above, these training sessions are intensive and, by the looks of things, they are paying off.