The NFL finally is hopping on the esports bandwagon.
The league is partnering with “Madden NFL 18” developer EA Sports to bring the Madden NFL Club Championship, a tournament that will feature all 32 teams, Electronic Arts announced Monday. Each NFL franchise will select one player, determined by online performance, to represent them in the tournament. The competition will start at this season’s Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fla., and culminate at Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
“Competitive gaming and esports are one of the most exciting ways to engage a larger, younger and digitally savvy NFL audience,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Collaborating with EA to create the Madden NFL Club Championship presents a unique opportunity to capture the excitement of NFL action and the passion of our fans with competition that anyone can participate in.”
The NFL now is the second major sports league in the United States to sponsor an esports tournament. Earlier this year, the NBA announced a partnership with Take-Two Interactive Software to bring the highly ambitious “NBA 2K” esports league, which will arrive for the 2017-18 season. And although nothing’s been revealed, the NHL might soon join the fun. Unfortunately, Major League Baseball has yet to indicate any plans to sponsor an eleague.
Qualifying for the Madden NFL Club Championship begins when “Madden 18” drops Tuesday, Aug. 22.