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Is Madden an Esport and What to Expect From the Game in the Future

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To those of you over the age of 50 and the people who have never owned a console or spent their lunch breaks watching their favourite streamers on YouTube, the world of esports may often sound a little mystifying.

In the most basic of terms, esports is the term used to describe the highest levels of competitive gaming, events which are often televised and attract audiences of millions of gaming enthusiasts. 

Amongst the most high profile esports title are Dota 2, Fortnite and League of Legends, slightly down the list but still popular is Madden, the video game adaptation of the NFL. 

In this article we take a look at Madden’s move into esports and give you an idea of what to expect from the title in the coming years.

If all this talk of football esports has got you in the mood for the coming NFL season be sure to have a look at the NFL odds and get your bets in early ahead of what promises to be a season to remember.

Madden Background

Named after Pro Football Hall of Fame coach and commentator John Madden, the game was first produced and released by EA Sports in 1988. Since then the game has come to be an institution of American Football.

Released yearly the game has seen a number of advancements and updates that have managed to keep it fresh and relevant. The addition of the Ultimate Team feature which allowed players to build squads from all available players and battle it out with one another online greatly increased the popularity of the game. 

(The evolution of Madden from 1988 to the modern day.)

Madden’s Esports Expansion

Not content with dominating the sports video game market, EA Sports decided to transition Madden into the esports landscape. The Madden Championship Series is a string of online esports game events that pit players from all across the globe against one another in a nine month long tournament.

The goal of the nine month slog is to qualify for the Madden Bowl, the electronic equivalent of the Super Bowl. To get there, online players can compete in the following qualifying tournaments:

  • Madden Club Championship: Online players pick a team from the 32 NFL teams to represent and play one another to rise through the online leader boards. The best player from each NFL team’s group makes it through to the next round and plays in a straight up knockout.
  • Madden Classic: The top 512 players from each platform (Xbox, PlayStation, PC and so on) compete against each other in a head-to-head tournament, battling it out to be crowned #1.
  • Madden Challenge: The top 512 players compete with one another in a straight knockout using the Madden Ultimate Team Draft Game Mode.
  • Last Chance Qualifier: This last chance saloon game mode sees the double elimination of the top 128 players per platform with the games played out on Ultimate Team. The top four winners automatically qualify for the Madden Bowl.

The Madden Bowl

Eight teams compete in the crème de la crème of Madden esports. The team captains are allowed to pick two players each from the pool of remaining qualifiers to make up a three-person team.

To crown a winner, teams face off in a best of three format across multiple game modes to determine the out and out best teams.

The 2021 winner was Team Henry which was led by 18-year-old Henry Leverette who scooped himself a whopping $250,000 in prize money in the process, which brings us on to the next topic…

(Watch Henry Leverette’s stunning last-gasp victory in the Madden Bowl.)

Madden Esports Prize Money

The money on offer to winners of other esports titles like Dota 2 and Fortnite are genuinely eye watering, but that’s not to say that the prize money available to Madden winners is chump change.

As previously mentioned, Henry Leverette took the top prize of $250,000 in last season’s Madden Bowl. The runner up Wesley Gittens left with a cheque for $150,000 and the third and fourth placed teams took $100,000.

The money on offer in the qualifying modes is as follows:

Madden Club Championship – 1st: $150,000. 2nd: $80,000. 3rd-4th: $50,000

Madden Classic – 1st: $15,000. 2nd: $8,000. 3rd: $6,500

Madden Challenge: 1st: $15,000. 2nd: $8,000. 3rd:$6,500

The Future of Madden

The coming months and years look bright for Madden and EA Sports as it was confirmed recently that the title had signed a multi-year partnership with Fox Sports to broadcast Madden Club Championship games on Tuesday nights.

That was in addition to a flurry of new sponsorship deals, including the main sponsor of non-endemic brand Pizza Hut.

Whilst sharing the same sort of market status as first-person shooter titles might seem some way off, that is the ultimate goal for Madden. The pandemic demonstrated that there was a passion for Madden as an esport and now it is on the title and the broadcasters to take advantage of that.

Is there anything you would like to see Madden to do capitalise on the popularity of esports? Let us know in the comments section below.

Jerry Cooper is a reporter who is based in New York. He has previously worked for several media organizations, including NY Wire.

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