There is no shortage of 15-year-olds that enjoy playing on the PlayStation, but while there is little doubt that many of them would give their elders a lesson in EA SPORTS FIFA 15, Daniel Butenko can go one better. The Bavarian gamer surprised everyone at the German live qualifying competition for the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2015 in Cologne, even defeating the reigning Virtual Bundesliga champion in the final to book his place at the Grand Final in Munich.
Despite this impressive performance, Germany’s sole representative faced a tough challenge in the group stage of FIWC 2015, He faced eventual world champion Abdulaziz Alshehri in his opening game, losing 1-0, and secured a draw in his second match before suffering a second defeat in his third encounter.
“I was quite nervous at the start, and although I was able to put it behind me, it’s natural to be nervous at a competition like this,” Butenko told FIFA.com. “Somehow things didn’t go to plan at all today, and luck wasn’t on my side either,” he added, after a third match in which he missed several promising goalscoring opportunities. His nervousness comes as no surprise when you consider that the FIWC was only the ardent Bayern Munich fan’s second live tournament after the qualifying contest in Cologne.
Although Butenko joined a German FIFA team before the FIWC to gain experience against seasoned players, pick up important tips and try out new tactics, losing to Alshehri in his opening match meant that he had no chance of progressing before playing his final game. Despite his understandable disappointment, the teenager continued to enjoy the FIWC experience and wore a big grin throughout the event. “It’s really good here and everything is so professional,” he enthused. “It’s so much fun!”
Thank you GrandmaStrictly speaking, the 15-year-old has his grandmother to thank for his impressive showing in this year’s competition. “My first PlayStation was a present from my grandma on my seventh birthday,” Butenko explained. He began playing EA SPORTS’ FIFA games shortly afterwards, with his steady improvement eventually bringing him all the way to the FIWC.
Having grown up in Neumarkt St Veit, just a few kilometres outside Munich, the Grand Final felt almost like a home game for the young contender. As the only representative of the host nation, his decision not to play with Germany was somewhat surprising. “The game and the teams are always being updated based on what’s going on in the real world at the time,” he mused. “Joachim Low is currently experimenting a great deal with full-backs and [Jonas] Hector and [Sebastian] Rudy just aren’t that strong in the game,” concluded Butenko, who also plays as an attacking midfielder for his hometown’s U-16 side.
Instead he opted for Portugal for one simple reason: “Ronaldo is the best player on FIFA!” Butenko is also a big fan of the Real Madrid superstar in real life and extremely enthusiastic about his style of play.
At the age of 15, the German was the youngest competitor at this year’s FIWC Grand Final. A victory against Dylan Bance in his final match enabled him to end the tournament on a high note. His performances this year suggest that this young man will become an increasingly familiar face in the world’s biggest gaming competition over the next few years – and if Butenko gets his way, this will not be his last appearance at the Grand Final. “I’ve still got plenty of time, so I’ll keep trying to qualify for the FIWC every year.”