Canadian GoalMachine21 set to rep his country at FIFA eWorld Cup

Toronto native Nawid "GoalMachine21" Noorzai. (@_GoalMachine21/Twitter)

Currently ranked 79th in the world, Canada’s hopes of playing in the final draw of the FIFA World Cup seems remote at best – even with the field expanding to 48 teams.

As such, when it was announced that the unified North American bid had won the right to host the 2026 World Cup, there was much wide-spread rejoice among Canadian soccer fans. Canada will have a good shot at an automatic berth into the tournament, marking just the second time in the country’s history to play in the finals and the first time since 1986.

That’s all well and good, but 2026 is a pretty long time to wait, especially when you can just check out a Canadian playing in a FIFA World Cup final event this very week.

Though not the same, the FIFA eWorld Cup Grand Final will take place beginning Thursday in London where 32 of the world’s best EA Sports FIFA 18 players will compete for a share of a $400,000 prize pool, including a $250,000 grand prize.

Among the 32 competitors is one lone Canadian, Toronto native Nawid (GoalMachine21) Noorzai.

Here’s a little bit more on him and the tournament.

Tournament format

As mentioned before, the tournament will feature 32 players who qualified for the event from separate qualifiers earlier in the year.

Between the 32, that number is split down the middle with 16 Xbox One players and 16 PlayStation 4 players. And from there, the 16 players on each side are sub-divided further into four groups.

As the graphic above shows, Groups A and B comprise of the Xbox One players and C and D are the PlayStation 4 guys.

The top four in each group advance to the round-of-16 knockout stage where the tournament enters into a bracket that has each console’s group of players on separate ends. A final showdown between the best Xbox and PlayStation players for the $250,000 grand prize follows.

But that’s not to say there isn’t still decent coin to be made at this event, even if you don’t win it. As long a player makes it into the round of 16, that dude will still be walking away with some cash. Here’s how the prize breakdown works:

• Grand prize: $250,000
• Runner-up: $ 50,000
• Semi-finalists: $20,000
• Quarter-finalists: $10,000
• Round of 16: $2,500

You can tune into the event on the official FIFA eWorld Cup Twitch page.

Who is GoalMachine21?

The lone Canadian in the field, Noorzai is an aggressive, offensive player on the Xbox side of the tournament who will be in tough to get out of the dreaded Group B.

Group B is considered to be the “group of death” because of names such as France’s “Rafsou,” “MSDossary” from Saudi Arabia and the 2017 FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC) champion “Gorilla” from England.

This isn’t to say Noorzai has no hope of getting out of the group however, because he ranks just as dangerously among the list of killers within the group. He’s had past success against Gorilla himself earlier this year, beating the English star at the prestigious FUT Champions Cup Manchester on his way to a breakout top-four finish.

A relative newcomer to the competitive FIFA scene, Noorzai only began playing the game at its highest level back in December, but since has picked up a sponsorship from Dutch esports organization Bundled and now finds himself competing for his country on virtual football’s grandest stage.

“It is pretty important to me to put Canada on the competitive FIFA map as we are greatly underestimated and there is only one competitor,” Noorzai told EA Sports. “I feel a bit of pressure as I’m the only player, but I’ll try my best to do so.”

The nerves Noorzai is feeling are understandable, but a Canadian doing well in a big international FIFA event isn’t without precedent. Last year, fellow Toronto native Philip (PhilB94) Balke finished within the top four on the Xbox side of the bracket at the FIWC, walking away with $2,500 and a result that led to a Red Bull sponsorship as well as a spot on Toronto FC as the club’s eMLS representative.

So Canada’s done big things in the world of FIFA in the past. Now it’s GoalMachine’s turn.

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