The inaugural Northeast Tennessee Madden 20 football tournament is scheduled to begin Saturday. The esports event was organized to give area kids a chance to compete against their peers in the midst of a pandemic.
Players will compete on the Playstation 4 platform in the quarterfinals Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. The semifinals are scheduled for Monday and the championship is slated for Tuesday.
The brackets are set up in a way that gives school rivals a chance to meet in the finals. Dobyns-Bennett is on the opposite side from Science Hill, Daniel Boone is opposite David Crockett, Volunteer is opposite Cherokee, and Elizabethton is paired away from Sullivan South. Each of the eight schools selected one football player for the competition.
Dobyns-Bennett junior Phillip Armitage said he likes the idea of taking on other football players.
“What I like best about this tournament is playing other people around this area competitively,” he said.
Elizabethton sophomore Trenton Taylor said the current situation made this opportunity appealing.
“I like being able to play against other schools while in quarantine,” he said.
As might be expected, many of the players will lean on Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens or Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs to get a win. Mobile quarterbacks are popular in Madden 20, just like the real-life game.
Here’s a look at the quarterfinal matchups:
Armitage vs. Taylor
Both players said they will use the Ravens or the Chiefs in the tournament.
Armitage said he likes the defensive side of the ball while Taylor leans toward offense.
“If I score enough, it puts too much pressure on the opponent to perform,” Taylor said.
Both players are veterans of the game. Armitage has played since he was 8 years old and Taylor from age 5 or 6.
Ashton Church vs. Riley Littleton
Church, a junior at Daniel Boone, will count on Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks to reach the semifinals.
He said football knowledge is a must for Madden.
“I believe to be successful in Madden you need to know football,” Church said. “As a player you need to see everything from your opponent’s offensive and defensive strategies to come out with the win.”
Church first played Madden 12 but took a break with the Madden 18 and 19 versions.
Littleton, a freshman at Volunteer, will stick with Jackson and the Ravens. But even with that offensive firepower, he leans toward the defensive side of the ball.
“You need to be able to stop mostly the run in Madden,” Littleton said. “You also need to be able to strategize against your opponent and play smart, and you have to know football.”
Littleton said he got his first PS3 in 2010 and has played every Madden game from that point.
Prince Kollie vs. Micah Jones
Area football fans know Kollie as a skilled player for David Crockett, and the junior may get a chance next season to emulate the quarterback he chose for Madden. The Ravens, and Jackson, are at the top of his list.
His goals are simple.
“I want to stop the run and limit turnovers,” said Kollie, who has played Madden for five years.
A senior at Cherokee, Jones said he will work with the Ravens. Not surprisingly with that choice, he considers himself offensive-minded.
To get a win, he will rely on two things.
“You have to play defense well and pass the ball good,” said Jones, a six-year Madden veteran.
Corbin Gerarde vs. Tryzden Cook
Gerarde, a junior at Science Hill, will stray from the Ravens’ popularity contest and use Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
The defensive-minded Gerarde said strategy is the key.
“It’s definitely what plays you call, and you have to keep your opponents guessing what you are running,” said Gerarde, who has been playing since Madden 12.
A junior at Sullivan South, Cook will go to the left coast for his team: the San Francisco 49ers. With that choice, it’s not surprising he likes defense.
Cook said the details matter in Madden.
“I feel like it’s more about how smartly you control the game,” he said.
Entering the tournament with the least hands-on experience, Cook has played Madden only since Christmas.