Standing in the lobby of the hotel, you would have no clue Dylan Bance was approaching one of the biggest moments of his life as a FIFA player. He looked more like someone preparing to take a Saturday morning stroll than a competitor on the brink of glory.
His calmness could have quite possibly been coming from the knowledge that he was the most experienced FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC) player of all the semi-finalists approaching the Grand Final in New York City. Less than 12 months prior to the Grand Final in New York, the Frenchman was a part of FIWC 2015 in Munich.
“I’m not a stressed kind of person,” Bance told FIFA.comthe morning of this year’s Grand Final. “I’m very calm in FIFA and in real life, so pressure usually is not a big problem. Maybe it will come when I see the theatre, but I guess we’ll see later.”
The theatre he referred to is Harlem’s historic and iconic Apollo Theater: a sign that the FIFA Interactive World Cup was reaching new heights. Bance would be going up against England’s Sean Allen in the semi-finals with a place in the Final Showdown on the line.
“When I came here, of course I wanted to win, but when the tournament goes on and on, you get closer and closer. There’s a lot of pressure now, the final being at the Apollo Theater now! If I win, I don’t know how I will act!”
“I play in my room usually. It’s not a big deal. But, wow, for it to be at the Apollo Theater, such a musical place, it’s unbelievable.”
Psychological hurdle to overcome Bance did not hit all the right notes during the group stages the day before. He had actually been in Allen’s group and lost to the Englishman 4-0, so there was a mental hurdle to overcome for him if he was to get to the final. “The group stage was shaky for me!” he said, “I barely got through. After that, I played better. I played good games to get to the semi-finals, so it’s great for me.”
As an experienced player, Bance noticed some differences between the playing styles and tactics on show in the latest edition in New York City.
“I was in Munich last year for FIWC 2015 and we had only 20 players then. This year, we were at 32. There’s a lot of variety among the players. There are differences between the players, different styles, so it’s a bit different.”
When describing his own style as a player, Bance drew comparisons to a team that has garnered respect throughout world football.
“My style is a slow, possession style. Maybe a bit like Barcelona. I like to keep the ball well and build my attacks slowly. When other players, like Sean , play a more direct style and more fast paced. That’s a good opposition, I think. The key is to not give the ball away cheaply. I try to really build slowly up the pitch. I hope it will pay off.”
In the semi-finals, Allen played with Brazil, while Bance selected Germany. A sense of déjà vu started to creep into the venue as Allen was the first to score as he had been the day before. Bance gave away possession too easily and Allen was able to capitalise in the end, scoring two late goals with Neymar completing his hat-trick, and Brazil eventually running out 3-0 winners.
Like Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League this season, Bance’s latest adventure at the FIFA Interactive World Cup had come to an end before he could reach the final. One thing is for sure though, Bance’s calmness that he showed to bounce back from an early setback will put him in good stead for life.