This year, EA Sports kicked off their Madden NFL 21 Championship Series in mid-October. Despite the fact that the most recent iteration of the Madden franchise saw more than a few hiccups, the club championship series remains popular amongst fans and gamers.
Each year since 2017, EA Sports hosts an online competition to see which avid Madden gamer can represent their favorite club in a competition series with full participation from real-life franchises.
Beginning October 12, 2020, EA Sports selected a total of 1,024 competitors to take part in the first leg of the competition. This first leg, the online elimination portion, began October 19th in four waves that consisted of eight NFL teams each.
In the online elimination portion, competitors fight to represent their team. To do this, they must weed out others looking in the MUT setting (changed from previous Salary Cap settings). From the 1,024 gamers, only 64 remained on October 31, when online elimination ended.
At that time, one gamer won the right to represent their team in each the PS4 and Xbox One sectors of the tournament. Since then, each division in the AFC and NFC have begun competing to determine who will advance to AFC and NFC Championship games, set for Jan 21/22 and Jan 28/29 respectively.
The Madden Club Championship will be played on Feb 4/5. Live matches can be viewed via Twitch or YouTube.
Club Championships Come to a Head
In recent years, the Madden tournament marks the first foray into the world of eSports for some teams such as the Green Bay Packers. Though the Packers are no stranger to dominating the NFC North and giving analysts who create NFL betting odds plenty to think about before predicting outcomes, the franchise doesn’t usually venture beyond the gridiron.
Other teams have opted to create their own eSports team to help develop talented gamers. The LA Chargers did this with their Bolts team. Though the Packers won’t have their final club showdown until December 22 to see which gamer will represent their team going into the NFC Championship game in late January, the Chargers saw a showdown between last year’s champ, Elite, and Suspect, a new challenger.
The game provided the same level of action and upsets as a live NFL game. Challenger Suspect built a lead of 6-0 heading into the fourth quarter. Elite, a champion for the Chargers last year, pulled ahead with an interception and took the final 10-6 lead.
Though not quite on par with Patrick Mahomes’ moves in the last quarter of the 2020 Super Bowl, Elite and Suspect’s live-streamed battle is one of the cornerstones behind EA Sports’ success with the Club Championship.
Club Championship may be Madden’s Best Offering
Since Madden NFL 21 was released in August this year, it’s faced quite a bit of negative feedback. For the most part, these issues were developmental, causing glitches that disrupted gameplay—if not making it impossible.
As per usual, quicksell values for Madden 21 were made available, and then came gameplay upgrade reviews, and then further critiques for lack of changes made to the game’s Franchise Mode. The Club Championship hasn’t been bereft of these critiques, either.
In particular, gamers and spectators are disappointed that EA Sports shifted from the Salary Cap mode to MUT mode. For many, the Salary Cap mode instituted necessary restraints that further mirrored the challenges faced daily by real-life NFL teams.
In other words, the tournament can’t function like a fantasy league free-for-all in Salary Cap mode. Gamers need to have deep gameplay knowledge, but they also need to understand how overarching NFL dynamics work in terms of salary and the NFL Draft.
However, EA Sports has done well with its series titled Derwin James vs. The World. James, strong safety for the LA Chargers, was placed on injured reserve for 2020 following surgery. Since then, he’s partnered with EA Sports to take on other big personalities on the virtual gridiron.
A strong player on the field and behind the controller, James is a relaxed host and gracious winner for his YouTube series with EA Sports. Some of his more notable faceoffs include Snoop Dogg and Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson.