|FIFA Online’s official “2006 Hyundai Motor Cup World Cup Championship” finals took to the field last Friday, beginning an 11-week run.
Although the online soccer game only debuted last summer, the number of players has grown rapidly. The PC-based game, available solely in Korea currently, was developed jointly by Neowiz and Electronic Arts and is similar to the console game FIFA 2006, which was made by Electronics Arts.
The difference between the console FIFA 2006 and the FIFA Online is that the latter includes massive multiplayer features, enabling simultaneous playing by tens of thousands of people. It became especially popular during the (real) World Cup period, somersaulting over other games to enter top-five rankings on local game portals just weeks after it was introduced. Currently, there are about 4 million subscribers of the game, with up to 180,000 concurrent players at peak hours.
The Hyundai Motor Cup World Cup Championship is not only a mouthful to pronounce, but its finals will take place over a full 11 weeks, winding up to a grand finale on Dec. 22. The finalists were selected through a two-tier screening process of online and offline preliminary games. From 30,000 hopefuls, finalists were narrowed down to 32 players, who will double up in 16 teams, battling for cash prizes of up to 5 million won ($5,235) and a Hyundai Avante car.
Some of the teams sound very familiar: Chelsea, Manchester United, FC Barcelona, Liverpool, New Castle and AS Roma. Of course, there also Korean teams: FC Seoul, Jeonbuk Ilhwa, Ulsan Hyundai and Jeonbuk Hyundai. Players from Korean and foreign professional soccer leagues were added to FIFA Online and the techniques and statistics of each player are customized ― the information was provided by the teams.
The games take place every Friday at 6 p.m., at the Hero Center in the COEX Mall in Samseong-dong, close to the Bandi & Lunis Bookstore. They are also broadcast live on MBC Game.
There is no knowing how many people will attend each of the finals, but at the offline preliminaries on Sept. 30, which took place at the Ipark Mall in Yongsan, central Seoul, 900 people came to watch live players play virtual soccer ― that is, to sit in front of monitors and play FIFA Online.
by Wohn Dong-hee for JoongAng Daily