North Texas Daily

Students get in the game with Madden tournament

Students get in the game with Madden tournament

October 01
12:32 2015

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

Go for the tie, or go for the win? It’s a decision almost every football coach has faced at one point or another.

After scoring a touchdown to pull his team to within a point in the waning seconds, kinesiology senior Christian Harley faced the same decision. He opted to go for the two-point conversion.

But Harley was unsuccessful. A hard-fought championship round in the Madden 16 tournament was over, eight hours and several games later.

“No guts, no glory,” Harley said. “I was either going to come out a winner or come out a loser. No regrets. It was a good game.”

Harley was one of many North Texas students to take part in the most recent Pohl Recreational Center’s Intramural video game tournament. Every six to eight weeks, the rec will host various video game tournaments, ranging from FIFA to Call of Duty, and most recently Madden.

Popularity for the video game contests has grown in the recent years, with each event averaging around 30 students, depending upon the game.

Assistant director of intramural sport clubs Billy Mathew said there is a wide variety of students who participate, from novices to aspiring professionals.

“There’s a pretty good mix of players that come in,” Mathew said. “A lot of them aren’t that serious and just want to have a good time. But don’t get me wrong, there are also guys that come in and are super serious and want to win.”

Tournaments are single elimination and played using the default settings of each game. The only element subject to change is the length of the game, which can be adjusted if the competition is running ahead or behind.

Kinesiology junior Akon Ebong, who defeated Harley in the final round of the most recent Madden tournament, said time played a factor in the championship bout.

“They actually had us on three-minute quarters,” Ebong said. “We had been there since 4:00 in the afternoon, and it was going on midnight. So what ended up happening was we only got one possession each, and that affects how you play the game.”

Ebong said there are other strategies and nuances competitive Madden players utilize that the average player may not think about. For instance, many gamers will pick teams that may not be as popular but are effective in a video game because of certain roster characteristics.

The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets were popular choices throughout the tournament, largely in part to their stout defenses and effective offensive lines.

“It just depends on your style of play,” Ebong said. “I like good defenses and fast running backs. A lot of people think the Patriots or Seahawks might be the best choice, but sometimes they aren’t.”

Harley said there are a few unspoken rules he and other gamers try to abide by to keep the game fair. The most common is not playing with the highest rated team, which in this year’s edition of the game is the Seattle Seahawks, which own a rating of 92 overall.

“Honestly, if you pick the Seahawks or whoever the best team is, people just sort of roll their eyes,” Harley said. “Because they’re so much better, it doesn’t take a lot of skill to win with them. That said, I beat two guys who used the Seahawks. But it’s something I just generally like to stay away from.”

All tournaments are played on the PlayStation 4 console and have live, updated rosters. Mathew said the reason behind choosing PlayStation over Xbox came down to money.

“PlayStation doesn’t charge for their online services,” Mathew said. “Xbox does, so it would make it even harder for me to go and get the most update rosters. And a lot of guys want that. They want the latest rosters to play with.”

Winning a tournament through the rec center comes with its rewards: an intramural championship T-shirt and a copy of the game for PlayStation 4.

Ebong said he was elated winning the title, but the copy of Madden for PlayStation4 did him no good.

“That is one thing I wish they would change,” Ebong said. “I have an Xbox, so the PS4 copy was completely useless to me. I feel like they should have both copies available to let the winner choose from. I gave my copy to a friend who had a PS4.”

For now, playing the tournaments will continue to be something Harley and Ebong do just for amusement. Both said although it takes skill to be able to play the game, neither would consider it a real sport.

“It takes knowledge of playing the game, knowing what plays to run and clock management,” Harley said. “But at the end of the day, it’s just a game. Unless you’re doing this professionally and putting food on the table, I wouldn’t call it a sport. My girlfriend gives me crap all the time for playing in these, but I enjoy it.”

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