As you may have read, Prima Games' own MaddenTips.com crew took their advanced gridiron skills to the Madden NFL Virgin Gaming Tournament recently. And despite advancing several rounds and coming out on top over several other great competitors, the team fell just a bit short of winning it all. Hear about it from the men themselves as they recap their journey across the field.
It was a long road for our competitors, and there were many barriers in their way. More than a thousand, but in the end, no matter what the outcome, their experience in tournament play only makes them that much better.
Steve "Sgibs" Gibbons
"There is nothing better then waking up the morning of tournament day. We needed to be there early since the starting time was 8 AM and it was just about a mile walk through NYC in the freezing cold wind. When we got there I was shocked at how many people were outside lined up waiting to get there hands on $400,000 in prizes.
The doors opened and I was finally inside, registered, and ready to go. Walking in was the first sign that this was no ordinary Madden Challenge. There was a line of cheerleaders that greeted you screaming and supporting your arrival. Once inside I looked around in anticipation of my first round game.
I had one of the toughest first round matchups in the entire tournament. More times than not, you don’t have top players face off in the first round. The game started great for me as I scored first and went up 7-0. Then, I forced a stop and got the ball back with a chance to go up two scores. I looked to call my favorite play the Gun Trey Open WR Screen. My opponent made an amazing play on the ball and got a user pick for a touchdown. At this point in the game I knew it was going to be a battle.
Fast forward to the 4th qtr and the final drive I had a chance to win the game on the final possession. The score was 21-17 and I was poised to march down the field for the win. Unfortunately I was pressed into a 3rd and long situation where I forced a throw to Jermichael Finley and my opponent once again got a user pick. That sealed my fate at the tournament and my chance at $140,000.
I had trained for so long and to lose in the first round was demoralizing. Yes, I played an opponent that was a favorite to win the event but I was also one of those favorites. At this point I couldn't think about my misfortunes, I had teammates to worry about. As I went to check on Zfarls’s game I heard Virgin Gaming Co-Founder make an announcement. He let everyone know that a handful of the losers in round 1 were going to get a chance at re-entry into the tournament! I was one of the few.
After waiting nearly 4 hours, I finally was back in the tournament. I was facing off against another great opponent in round three. This time something was different. This time I wasn't nervous. I was ready to win. The game, once again, started off with a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. We battled back and forth throughout the game and we were eventually in the situation at the end of the game tied up 24-24. It was my ball and I wasn't going to let this opportunity slip out of my hands. I drove down the field relentlessly and got into field goal range with 3 seconds left on the clock.
I kicked the 59 yard field goal with only 96% power but with 100% accuracy and wondered, 'Will this have enough power?' The kick soared through the uprights and I was moving on to round 4!
Round 4 was yet again another matchup with my first round opponent. We locked in at out station and were ready to play. The game was scoreless through the first quarter after a few interceptions on both sides of the ball. Going into halftime the score was tied up 14-14 with him receiving the ball at half. I had the ball just before half with 1:21 remaining and no timeouts after the kick off. I played very conservative and, looking back on it, I wish I would have forced the situation to try and get points. I was to worried about a turnover and allowing my opponent score just before half and then get the ball back at the start of the second half.
At the start of the second half I made an amazing user pick on the sideline and drove right down the field for the score. It was now 21-14 and I was in a position to avenge my first round loss. I had my opponent on the ropes numerous times yet he kept converting 3rd and long situations, and in a tournament like this you can’t allow that to happen.
At the end of the 4th qtr I found myself in a familiar situation; Possession of the ball, down by a field goal, needing to get in range to save my tournament life. I drove down the field and got into field goal range and set this game into overtime.
In overtime I felt I had a great grasp for what my opponent wanted to do. However, he changed his game plan and looked to target his big receivers on the outside. Two deep user catches later, the game was over and I was officially eliminated from the tournament.
I had a great run and lost in the Final 64. The tournament was amazing, the venue was electric, and I can't wait for the next event. This is why you play Madden, this is why you spend all those hours in the lab; For the excitement, for the energy, for the love of the game."
Click here to read Zfarls's account of the tournament.