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Danish teenager wins virtual World Cup

RIO DE JANEIRO -- A Danish teenager has claimed the virtual World Cup by beating his English rival in the final of the online Playstation gaming competition, overcoming a field of almost two million entrants.

While his nation did not make it to the real World Cup, 18-year-old August Rosenmeier did his bit for Danish pride by beating England's David Bytheway 3-1 on Thursday to win the FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC).

The FIWC, which is played exclusively with EA Sports' FIFA 14 game and on a Sony PlayStation 3, has grown from 28,000 entrants in the inaugural tournament in 2004 to a huge online field in 2014.

Rosenmeier claimed a US$20,000 first prize as reward for his dedication, saying he “trains” for four to six hours per day.

Far from the image of gamers being glued to screens in darkened rooms, Thursday's final had a glamorous setting, halfway up the Sugarloaf Mountain; one of Rio's most iconic tourist destinations.

Former players Dwight Yorke and Alan McInally were on hand as commentators, but the biggest attraction was former Brazil great Ronaldo, who gave the two finalists a pre-match pep talk.

Qualification for the final started back in Oct. 13 for the first of six one-month long seasons played online, with competitors playing up to 900 12-minute games per season to accumulate as many points as possible. For those with less time on their hands, there was also a chance to progress based on the best winning percentage.

With the 2013 champion guaranteed a chance to defend his crown and the host nation given a slot, 20 gamers made it to Fluminese's home ground in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday.

The first shock came quickly as Bruce Grannec, the FIFA 14 ranked world number one and defending champion, lost in the group stages. The lone Brazilian, Rafael Fortes, won all his group games, but lost in the quarterfinal. His countrymen hope that isn't a premonition for the real World Cup.

Four made it through to Thursday's showdown at Sugarloaf and after both remaining Dutchmen went out in the semi-finals, Rosenmeier and Bytheway were left to battle it out. The finalists were marked by very different approaches to virtual soccer.

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