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Watch the world's greatest spreadsheet sorcerers throw down in the World Cup of Microsoft Excel

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Move over, nerds: The geeks have arrived. This weekend is the esports tournament you didn't know about, but are going to love: The Financial Modeling World Cup. In the contest, competitors from around the world solve real-life financial case studies by building models in Microsoft Excel.

The Final Round of the world cup will take place today, December 11th, at 5:00 PM UTC (that's 12:00 PM ET, 9:00 AM PT, 4:00 AM AET). The grand prize is $10,000. You can watch previous rounds, like the regional qualifiers, on the Financial Modeling World Cup Youtube channel. It is also on ESPN3 in the United States, apparently.

Watching the matches is somewhere between watching esports, watching Jeopardy!, and watching someone take a math test. Once presented with a case study, the competitors have to hammer away at the problems and questions presented in it. As they do so, commentators from the broader Excel community provide running explanation and opinion on the match. Honestly, if you watch esports, it's kind of surreal.

The organization behind the FMWC is pretty elaborate, as befits a more serious and business-oriented professional group. There are yearly Seasons where open challenges can be solved to earn points for the season towards a yearly ranking. (There's a spreadsheet with the rankings.) 

I've said in the past that in-depth, strategic simulations will never become esports. I'll now eat my words. This is a full-on simulation turned esport, using the logic and structures of programming and Excel—essentially an open-ended simulation engine—to create an intellectual contest that's both strategically and mathematically rich.

You can learn more about the Financial Modeling World Cup on their website, fmworldcup.com.

Thank you so very, very much for sharing this first, PCWorld.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.