History

Excel esports competitions evolved in 2021 as a spectator-friendly format of financial modeling competitions. Here is a brief history:

  • In 2012 an annual financial modeling competition named ModelOff was started by 2 guys from Australia – John Persico and Johann Odou. They organized it with support of Microsoft and the competition was held 1x every year until 2019.
  • The competition was featuring finance-related concepts, was held behind closed doors and was mostly player-oriented.
  • In 2019 they have sold it to new owners and in 2020 ModelOff was discontinued.

With my background in financial modeling, I was a very keen player in ModelOff competitions, making it to the finals twice in 2016 and 2017, ranking as high as 5th in the world in 2017. I liked the competition a lot but had lots of ideas how to make it better. So in 2020 I saw the opportunity and founded the Financial Modeling World Cup.

Initially the Financial Modeling World Cup was building on top of ModelOff’s concept, but with several improvements – monthly vs. annual challenges, solution models provided, transparent rankings, etc. This was a good start, however, I always wanted to make this event more spectator friendly, attract viewers, not just players. We started to experiment with ideas and the format evolved:

And then things evolved quickly:

  • More battles in 2021 helped us improve the format (see Wikipedia “Other Events” section).
  • ESPN got interested and in December 2021 we were streaming our grand tournament “FMWC Open 2021” (which is now called “Microsoft Excel World Championship”) on ESPN3. Again, got lots of media coverage and hundreds of thousands of views.
  • The All-Star Battle in 2022 was shown on ESPN2 on August 5, 2022 within “the Ocho day”. The news went viral, lots of media were writing about Excel being shown on the main sports channel. ESPN even made 2 re-airs of the battle in prime time as initially they were showing us on 4am 
  • Microsoft liked the format very much and agreed to let us use the name of Microsoft Excel in the name of our competition starting from 2022. So now the tournament is officially called “Microsoft Excel World Championship”.
  • The next step for this to become even bigger are in-person finals in Las Vegas. On December 9, 2023 the final games of Microsoft Excel World Championship 2023 will be held in HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas.