David Bytheway has won the FIFA Interactive World Cup UK pre-qualifier at GiveMeSport.
The top seen prevailed against five Facebook competition entrants from across the country, surviving a couple of close encounters to become the wildcard qualifier for next week’s eight-man national final at Stamford Bridge.
“I’m obviously delighted to have made it through. I knew I was under pressure (as the favourite) but you never know when you’re playing FIFA live and there were some very good players here,” he told GiveMeSport in the aftermath of victory.
“It’s a great feeling to qualify and a great way to do it in one night. It was an exciting event and I’m looking forward to next week. This has given me some confidence to go there to try and win."
Last year’s Grand Final runner-up arrived at the six-man tournament in Central London with the weight of expectation on his shoulders, and came through a tough group to book his place in the event at the home of the Premier League leaders next week.
Drawn in position three in Group A, Bytheway - playing as Real Madrid - beat Steven Hargreaves - playing as Bayern Munich - 1-0 in a tense clash between two high-standard gamers.
Hargreaves had earlier lost 1-0 to Jesse Middleweek courtesy of an 89th minute winner, and it wasn’t to be his night with consecutive close losses.
In a winner-take-all showdown between Bytheway and Middleweek, it was the reigning UK champion who prevailed with an impressive 3-1 win.
He met Group B winner Skye Pank in the final, after his dramatic 3-1 victory secured qualification on goals scored.
Pank and Ross Dipple played out an entertaining 2-2 draw to open proceedings, and it was the latter in the driving seat after a 2-0 win over Joe Hughes in the second group game.
Real Madrid showdown
However, Pank came from behind with three unanswered goals to secure his meeting with Bytheway. Both players were Real Madrid throughout the tournament.
It was Pank who had the first big opportunity in the final but after spurning a one-on-one chance, it was the ‘veteran’ from Wolverhampton who went through the gears with a couple of crucial goals before half-time.
With a couple of penalty shouts going begging, it was Bytheway who scored the only goal of the second-half to secure a 3-0 win and book his place in the UK final.
UK Final repeat?
He’ll be looking for a repeat of last year, when he won the event and went on to Rio for the Grand Final before falling agonisingly short to reigning world champions August Rosenmeier.