Rival electronic football games hit on to Korean TV

The rivalry between two popular electronic football games is extending on to South Korean TV screens with two game channels starting nationwide tournaments. Two months ahead of the World Cup kick off in Germany, the broadcasters are using famous football commentators Shin Moon-sun on SBS and Jang Ji-hyun on MBC ESPN to raise interest in their prefered video games.

Ongamenet, the leading game channel in Korea, started a FIFA '06 tournament on Saturday. The tournament features eight professional gamers and 24 amateurs, making it a competition of 32 teams in the same format as the real World Cup. The teams are split in eight groups to play the first round, and then are put into a do-or-die round of 16. The winner will be awarded 5 million won prize money. Four tickets to Germany's World Cup will be given to all semi-finalists.

"FIFA series is the only football game that has the license of FIFA," Kal Min-kyung, Electronic Arts Korea's public relations manager, told Cho Jin-seo of the Korea Times. "FIFA '06 has all the details of the players, teams and the game venues of Germany World Cup.''

The rival MBC Game's football show, using Winning Eleven 9 LE as its title, is comprised of nine separate seasons until December. The winners of each season will face off against each other in a playoff series at the end of the year. Developed by Japanese firm Konami, Winning Eleven puts an emphasis on realistic gameplay. Gamers can control every aspect of the game and can easily apply various tactics and formations without interrupting the game.

"I don't believe it will be very different from real football matches, MBC's Jang told Cho Jin-seo. "The games are based on real-world statistics so it won't be very difficult for me to commentate for the game show," he said.