Video by: Jessica Quinn, Sterling Bales
First taking place in 2004, the FIFA Interactive World Cup has become the world’s largest virtual football tournament. This June 9th competition was on the minds, and calendars, of the opponents for months. Gamers of all ages come from around the world to compete at The Mayan Theater in sunny Los Angeles, California.
After competing in the 6-month long qualification process, both online and live matches, that was held from the 1st to the 25th day of each month, 24 players from 15 countries came out to compete in the 2011 FIFA Grand Final. Giving such a long time frame, potential competitors had the opportunity to polish their skills and improve their game.
Playstation 3 and creator of FIFA 11, EA Sports, were proud to host such an event that brought both the contestants and supporters of this “beautiful game” together under one roof. With over thousands of nail-biting matches, competitors hoped to take place in the biggest gaming tournament in the world and play against some of their favorite pro football players.
Finalists, like Mark Azzi, Adam Winster, Javier Andres Munoz Cordoba, and Francisco Cruz sought to be crowned the new FIFA Interactive World Champion and win the prize money of $20,000. With a record-breaking 870,000 participants, the competition looked tough, but for the 16-year old Portugal native, Francisco Cruz, this was just another afternoon of playing his favorite EA Sports video game.
After beating fellow competitors in the previous games leading up to the last event of the day, finalist, Javier Munoz and Francisco Cruz took their seats with controllers in hand, and played with every scrap of skill left in their fingertips.
With the help of a soccer legend, the former U.S. Men’s National Team member, Eric Wynalda providing the commentary for this much-awaited finale and the rowdy cheers coming from the countless spectators, the two finalists were able to battle their way to finish. “This is my first video game tournament… it’s pretty impressive,” Wynalda said about the stiff competitors.
With the final score of 4-1, Cruz, showing his strength and determination, played the best match onlookers have ever seen in the last seven years this tournament. Francisco Cruz came out on top and was crowned 2011 world champion by FIFA and its sponsors.
Cruz, after receiving his trophy, excitingly declared, “Being world champion is an important thing and you don’t achieve this win everyday.” Though he is not sure how he will spend his winnings of $20,000, he is certain that he will return next year to defend his title.
[Note: both video and article were voted winners of 3rd annual Cougar News Quickfire challenge. Students had less than 3 hours to produce all elements of this story. The FIFA Interactive World Cup 2011 Grand Final took place at the Mayan theater earlier this summer.]