It’s been a long grueling grind for the competitors of the Madden 18 Ultimate League. After an 11-week regular season plus the playoffs, a champion has finally been crowned. The two players to make the Madden Bowl earned their spots by winning their Conference Finals. Out of the Legend Conference, Drini blew out his opponent, True, 31 – 7. From the Elite Conference, Young Kiv pitched a shutout against Blocky to advance, 24 – 0. The match up of Drini versus Young Kiv was a rematch of the Madden Challenge Finals a few months earlier where Drini was victorious. Who would walk away this time with the championship belt, a $100,000 purse, and the bragging rights of being the first Madden Ultimate League Champion?
Kiv had a slow start to the game and turned it over on downs on his first possession. Drini took full advantage and scored on the ground two plays later from 31 yards out. Kiv responded his next time out and eventually ran it in from the 2-yard line to tie the game. In the second quarter, they exchanged touchdowns again with Drini scoring on a 4-yard run and Kiv on a 5-yard run. The two went into the break tied 14 – 14.
The third quarter was fairly quiet with Drini kicking a 26-yard field goal to go up ahead 17-14. On the other hand, the last quarter saw more action and was more intense. Kiv started it off by running it 4 yards into the end zone. Drini then turned an interception into seven points on the only touchdown of the game in the air by converting a 17-yard pass. With 17 seconds to go, Kiv retook the lead 28 – 24 on a 7-yard TD run. With time running out, Drini threw a Hail Mary that he successfully caught and got him to the 6-yard line. Unfortunately, his storybook ending of a last second, game winning touchdown was not meant to be as he overthrew his receivers his final two plays.
In a rare show emotion, Kiv exuberantly roared in joy realizing he was now champion. He avenged his previous loss at the Madden Challenge. For someone who is known for his passing, this game he relied heavily on the run and scored all his touchdowns on the ground. Immediately after the game, Kiv expressed what winning meant to him:
It’s really unexplainable. I can’t describe the emotions inside of me. I’ve literally done this for three years now. I’ve been in so many tournaments. I’ve been so close and the hours I’ve put in, it’s just finally paid off. It’s an amazing feeling.
What an inaugural season for the Madden Ultimate League. Most competitions are multiday tournaments so to have a league that lasts over two months is quite the endeavor. Hopefully with the backing and support of the NFL, which hosted some games including the Madden Bowl, and Disney XD and ESPN which aired the matches, this sport based eSport can continue to grow.