Eusebio, Di Stefano, Cruyff, these are just some of the names on the list of footballing legends that, despite their greatness, never managed to win the ultimate prize in football - the FIFA World Cup™. Virtual football also has its share of top talents that have yet to win the most prestigious title, the FIFA Interactive World Cup, the virtual equivalent of the FIFA World Cup.
Ovidiu Patrascu – more commonly known as Ovvy - has won several international football titles in the e-sports world, but to this day, the biggest prize has eluded him, the FIWC trophy. Patrascu, regarded by many of his fellow gamers as one of the best to ever play the game, has appeared at three Grand Finals, but the Romanian has never finished on the winners podium.
‘Almost, but not quite’ seems a recurring theme in Patrascu’s footballing life. At age 11, he joined FC Universitatea Craiova and began his journey to fulfil his boyhood dream of becoming a professional footballer with Craiova, the first Romanian football team to ever reach the semi-finals of a European tournament (UEFA Cup 1982–83). “As a Romanian, Hagi was my childhood hero of course,” Ovidiu tells FIFA.com. “And for strikers, it was Christian Vieri. I just loved that he was so powerful with the ball.”
From Pro to Pro Gamer
At 17, Patrascu broke into the Craiova first team. “I was a striker,” says the tall, strong Romanian, “my specialty was headers.” Shortly after making it into the first team, a leg injury would sideline him for the better part of a year, and would ultimately end his playing career prematurely.
“I couldn’t do anything else in football, so I started playing FIFA in my free time,” says Ovvy. “I was beating everyone, but people would keep telling me that I wasn’t good enough to do anything beyond my city. And all I could think was ‘I’m going to show you’.”
Patrascu quickly established himself on the PC version of the EA SPORTS™ FIFA series, winning his first world title in 2008. “I met Andre Buffo at a gaming tournament and we kept in touch,” recounts Patrascu. “He kept telling me about this thing called the FIWC on PS3, so I looked into it. The Grand Final and the locations each year looked amazing, so I thought ‘I have to try this’."
Ovvy qualified for his first Grand Final in 2012, and has been present at every edition since then. It’s a massive achievement just to make it to a Grand Final of the largest gaming tournament in the world, and one that very few players have been able to enjoy as often as the 25-year old University Graduate.
The toughest tournament
While the Romanian has been impressive during qualifying for the Grand Final, once at the main event his experience has been a frustrating one. In three appearances, he has failed to make it beyond the group stage. In 2012, then defending champion Francisco Cruz and Krasimir Ivanov would progress at Ovvy’s expense in Group D. “Still, Dubai was amazing,” he says, maintaining that the trip was an incredible experience despite his abrupt exit.
Madrid 2013 would prove equally disappointing for him. In a strong group that would include eventual third-place finisher Rafael Riobo, Patrascu managed a single win in six games. And then there’s Rio 2014, where goal difference would keep him from making it into his first ever FIWC quarter-final. Ovvy watched from the crowd as August Rosenmeier, a player that made his FIWC debut alongside him in 2012, was crowned champion.
Despite his Grand Final frustrations, Patrascu keeps his focus on the future of the FIFA series. When not training or competing, he enjoys helping fans of the game by providing YouTube tutorials on various aspects of the EA SPORTS™ FIFA series. It’s a task he devotes plenty of time to and that he finds mutually beneficial. “We spend our entire lives trying to be part of something,” says Patrascu, "It’s nice to be part of something like this. I do what I enjoy and that’s what's most important.”