The future of NFL esports and the Madden Championships

Sports-simulation titles have grown significantly in 2020, with many reports highlighting the rise of FIFA, NBA and sim racing. However, one title that has gone under the radar is Madden 21.

One of EA’s premier video game championships is set to return in 2021, with the publisher announcing that The Madden 21 Club Championship is back featuring a prize pool of $750,000. 

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Registration for the tournament has since closed with the Madden Championship Series, which will run from November 10th 2020 to February 5th 2021, whittling down the participants until one representative for each NFL team is crowned. 

The online games are being played on Tuesday nights and the competition has already received interest from non-endemic brands with Pizza Hut announced as the tournament’s lead sponsor. Further information about upcoming events and live streams is expected to be available in the near future. 

Where can you watch the Madden Championships?

The Madden Championships have been made available on Fox Sports after the NFL, NFLPA, and Madden NFL signed a multi-year partnership with the broadcaster. As such, most NFL streams, both in the traditional and esports sense, are a thing of the past.

Along with gameplay being broadcasted, the event also sees a range of other content including a new celebrity, musical artist, or athlete taking on Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James every week on Madden 21. This further highlights the growing relationship between the NFL and its virtual compatriot.

At the conclusion of the 16-week long series on February 5th, James will take on the winner of the season’s Madden Club Championship. Each week features King of the Hill tournaments, where players will face off in two respective single-elimination tournaments. 

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The Future of Madden Esports

Even before the pandemic, esports was starting to attract more of a mainstream audience. Hulu Live was streaming the live championships of Overwatch, whilst the Madden Championships were also being showcased on the platform. Other broadcasters looked into titles such as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege from Ubisoft, F1 2020 and League of Legends to name but a few in order to secure regular programming during the pandemic. 

Viewers watching and engaging with a virtual Madden competition is not a recent phenomenon either. Madden Nation started being streamed on ESPN in 2005 and still to this day the broadcaster airs various Madden esports competitions. 

Whilst some mainstream entities had their doubt over the success of esports, there is no question that business is booming in 2020. We’ve already seen Madden’s development come to fruition this year with the Club Championship announcing its return. 

Meanwhile, grassroots developments have also been made for EA’s title with the publisher entering into a multi-year partnership with Learfield IMG College to launch Level Next, a Madden 21 esports league supporting more than 2,500 schools.

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