The Madden NFL 21 Championship Series will have a new look than in years past when it begins Sept. 15, the NFL and EA Sports announced.
The announcement comes after EA and the NFL and NFLPA signed a multi-year partnership renewal in May as engagement and viewership numbers soared for the game amid the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a 30% year-over-year increase in unique players. The Madden Championship Series is a nine-month competitive structure that culminates with the Madden Bowl, where one winner is crowned.
Every Tuesday night throughout the 2020 NFL season, Madden NFL will bring gamers and football fans content via its Twitch and YouTube channels.
“Our world has drastically changed over the last few months, yet the love of competition and sense of connection that comes through games is stronger than ever,” Madden NFL Commissioner Matt Marcou said in an announcement. “This year Madden NFL will add several new formats, beyond our traditional tournament series, to appeal to an even broader audience. We believe that this is the most accessible and engaging competitive gaming content ever for both players and fans alike and is just the beginning of a new era of competitive gaming.”
NFL player involvement headlines the programming changes.
Every week, a different celebrity, musical artist or athlete will challenge Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James in Madden NFL 21 for a segment called “Derwin vs. the World.” At the end of the season, James will play the winner of this year’s Madden Club Championship.
“Fans got a taste of my skills when I won the Madden NFL 20 Celebrity Tournament back in April, and this time, I’m back to quiet any doubters that I’m the best Madden player in the League,” James said. “I’m a huge Madden fan and I look forward to showing up every Tuesday to take on new challengers and ultimately test my skills against the season’s best Madden player.”
On Tuesday nights from Sept. 15 to Oct. 17, a new program called “King of the Hill” will pit two NFL athletes against two elite Madden NFL players in two parallel single-elimination tournaments. The winner from each matchup advances to the next week to meet a new challenger, and the two tournaments offer shares of a $50,000 prize pool — the NFL players’ shares will be donated to charities of their choice.
Overall, the Madden Championship Series will have its biggest prize pool ever at $1.4 million. It begins with the Madden NFL 21 Club Championship from Nov. 10 to Feb. 5, during which players will compete to represent each of the 32 NFL teams. All matches will be played remotely and join the Tuesday night streaming lineup starting in October. Pizza Hut is also returning as a sponsor of the series — all Madden Championship Series will be played in a Pizza Hut-branded virtual stadium.