Paris played host to the eighth and final leg of the FIFA Interactive World Cup and saw Spain's Javier Devis Lara reign victorious in a gripping final. Following his victory a jubilant Javier was ecstatic. "To come here and take on some of the best gamers, not only in Europe but from around the world was an amazing experience". He added: "Now, I'm off to London to represent my country and I'm also taking home an Xbox 360 and two tickets to the final of the FIFA World Cup! Unbelievable!"
The Carrousel du Louvre had a truly international flavour at the start of the day as gamers from all over Europe: Belgium, Spain, Norway and Sweden joined those from the UK, USA and of course, France. With such a diverse contingent it came as no surprise to see a wide variety of styles on show.
Javier will have little time to bask in his glory - in under one week he will travel to London to take on nine other competitors, the cream of the world's best FIFA 06 players, in a bid to become the FIFA Interactive World Player 2005.
With the doors to the tournament open MC Style quickly stamped his authority on the proceedings, chatting with visitors and gamers and discussing tactics. With the previous evening's final draw for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ still fresh in the minds of the crowd there was plenty to discuss!
Real life football was quickly put to one side as gamers took to the consoles to practice their moves before the tournament commenced. European teams were strongly represented: from the clubs, AC Milan, Juventus and Arsenal were popular choices whilst on an international level, England, Brazil and France took centre stage. Some gamers took a more relaxed approach and sampled other titles from EA SPORTS whilst others headed to the Xbox 360 dome. With Xbox's second generation console only a few weeks old many gamers were keen to sample the fantastic gameplay and incredible graphics.
As the tournament progressed the crowd were treated to some thrilling matches. One of last year's finalists, Matija Biljeskovic was drawn against the finalist from this year's London tournament, Ryan Cullender. Ryan was first to draw blood with a goal from Robinho and it was only due to some offside offences by both sides that weren't more goals in the first half! Ronaldinho drew the sides level in the second half and extra time ensued after a hard fought but goal less second half. Ronaldo put Matija ahead in extra time to give the American a well-earned victory and a place in the next round.
Throughout the day the speed shot and the target shot saw a steady stream of visitors eager to show off their skills. Franck Mandry took the honours in the over sixteen speed shot competition with a incredible 107 kmh whilst 14-year-old Lounes Ibbou notched up an impressive 98 kmh for the under 16 contingent. On the target shot Yilmaz Ozdemir and Sofiane Nankour were the winners both showing devastating accuracy - football stars of the future perhaps?
The first semi final saw Javier take on France's Franck Mandry. Both sides selected Brazil and it wasn't long before Ronaldinho put Javier on the scoresheet with a long-range Ronaldinho shot. Minutes later he made it two and it was only a save from Dida that prevented the Spaniard from turning round at 3-0 up. A cheeky Ronaldo shot inside the six-yard box pulled one back for Franck in the opening minutes of the second half but Javier's defence locked out the opposition's attack for the remainder of the half and secured him a place in the final.
The second semi final saw goals for both Belgium's Tom Van Rousselt and the USA's Matija Biljeskovic early in the game. A midfield battle ensued with both teams breaking through and threatening the opposition's defence on several occasions. Despite some exciting play both goalkeepers prevented either side from scoring and with extra time producing no further goals it was down to a penalty shoot out to decide the winner. Both players scored five out of five from the spot so it was a case of "sudden death". At the seventh attempt Lucio missed his spot-kick for Tom and it was Roberto Carlos who smashed the ball home to take Matija into the final.
Both the Spaniard and the American took to the field as Brazil and it was all about Ronaldinho in the first half as he powered two shots home Javier to give him a comfortable 2-0 cushion. Despite some sharp attacks, Matija couldn't break through the opposition's defence thanks to some athletic saves from Dida. In the 85th minute Matija clawed back a goal thanks to a well worked move and a good finish from Ronaldo but it was a case of too little too late and at the final whistle Javier became the eighth winner of the 2005 regional tournament. He now joins the other winners from this year's regional tournament in next Sunday's Grand Final - in the meantime well done Javier!