Another Madden 19 EA Major tournament is around the corner, as the Madden Challenge live finals take place March 15 – 17. The popular MUT Draft format takes center stage for this event, where competitors hold a draft the day before gameplay begins to determine which playbooks they’ll be using and which MUT items will be leading their squads. Versatility and the ability to adapt is key in this mode.
This season’s field of 16 finalists is loaded with some of the biggest names in competitive Madden, including defending Challenge champion Drini “Drini” Gjoka, plus four other former MCS belt winners.
Here's a thread to introduce all 16 #MaddenChallenge finalists!— Madden League Ops (@MaddenLeagueOps) February 26, 2019
Congrats and good luck in the live finals in California! 🙌 (March 15-17 🗓️)
To preview the event and help you key in on which players to keep an eye on, we’ve sorted the field into four groups: Tournament favorites, seasoned veterans, sleepers, and dark horses. So, without further ado, read on to meet your Madden Challenge finalists.
Drini “Drini” Gjoka (Group C)
The Madden 18 Challenge champion is back to defend his title. Drini, who over the last year has cemented his status as a true force to be reckoned with in live tournaments, represented the Dallas Cowboys in this season's Club Championship live finals, where he was defeated by Hassan “Gos” Spall in Round 2. The 19-year-old recorded a fifth-place finish at the Madden 19 Classic and currently sits among the top 10 in MCS point standings heading into the Madden 19 Challenge. The young Madden star is seeking his second consecutive Challenge title, his second MCS belt, and will attempt to lock up a seat at the season's finale, the Madden Bowl.
Shay “Young Kiv” Kivlen (Group D)
Last year's Madden Challenge runner-up and Madden Bowl winner saw an early exit in the Madden 19 Classic and fell to Tyler “TDavis” Davis in a Round 2 thriller at the Madden 19 Club Championship live finals. Now, Young Kiv forges ahead with another EA Major berth at this year's Challenge and finds himself in a group that he could easily dominate. He's hoping that a leaked video of his qualifying gameplay doesn't put him at a disadvantage for this MUT Draft format tournament.
Hassan “Gos” Spall (Group C)
At the Madden 19 Club Championship, Gos defended his title all the way into the Final 4 where he was defeated by the tournament's runner-up, Ryan “ibestrafing” Danczak. With his advancement to the semi-finals, Gos has already secured his seat at the season's finale, the Madden Bowl. But he's on a mission for another MCS belt and has already defeated Drini at a live EA Major setting this season, solidifying him as a favorite to take home the Madden 19 Challenge title.
Pavan “Pavan” Lakhat (Group A)
If you're reading this, you might already know that just a few weeks ago, Pavan took home the Madden 19 Club Championship title along with $100,000 and a seat at the Madden Bowl. The 18-year-old dominated at his first EA Major appearance and is poised to build upon his success at the Madden Challenge. He landed in a group with the Madden 17 Challenge champion (BeastModeMac) and two newcomers, so he shouldn't have much trouble advancing out of group play. But in competitive Madden, anything can happen. Pavan's recent victory should lend him the confidence he needs for a potential back-to-back MCS major titles, and he remains a key competitor to watch going forward.
Matt “BeastModeMac” Clark (Group A)
Nearly two full years ago, BeastModeMac defeated Michael “Skimbo” Skimbo to take home the Madden 17 Challenge title, along with $50,000. He also placed ninth at the Madden 17 Championship that same year. Last season, BeastModeMac's best finish at an EA Major was ninth at the Madden 18 Classic, so he's no stranger to the big stage and the live event setting. He's clearly a seasoned veteran in this aspect, and experience can go a long way in high-pressure situations like the Madden 19 Challenge.
Reginald “Boogz” Brown (Group B)
Back on the MCS Major radar after a slow Madden 18 tournament season, Boogz made all four Madden 17 majors and placed top-10 in every single one of them, raking in $42,500 in the process. Hence his status as a seasoned veteran heading into the Madden 19 Challenge. The Atlanta native is still searching for his first MCS belt, and his live event experience should boost his confidence and quell any nerves when on the big stage at this season's Challenge.
Jordan “Canes” Powell (Group B)
Canes is an MCS veteran with two top-10 finishes in EA Majors dating back to the MCS17 campaign. More recently, he enjoyed a fifth-place finish at the Madden 19 Classic and has represented the Chicago Bears at the Madden Club Championship live finals for two consecutive seasons. Heading into the Madden 19 Challenge, Canes is a top-10 MCS points earner and will look to build upon his ranking with eyes set on locking up a seat at the Madden Bowl.
Wesley “JoeRice” Gittens (Group C)
Another MCS veteran with live event experience, JoeRice advanced to the Madden 19 Club Championship quarterfinals before dropping to Abbott “Blocky” Lopez. He's one to watch in this tournament's MUT Draft format, as he placed fifth at the Madden 17 Challenge a few years ago.
Michael “Spoto” Spoto (Group B)
Despite being one of the youngest players in the competitive Madden circuit, Spoto has some solid live event experience under his belt. He just represented the Indianapolis Colts at the Madden 19 Club Championship live finals, and placed fifth at his first EA Major, the Madden 18 Classic, last season. The 17-year-old from Staten Island will look to redeem himself after getting knocked out in the first round of the Club Championship as he finds himself in a group alongside veterans like Canes and Boogz.
Michael “Noble Prodigy” Scott (Group D)
All “The Office” jokes aside, Noble Prodigy could very well push to the later stages of the Madden 19 Challenge with a bit of good fortune. He placed third at the Madden 18 Challenge ($20K) and 13th out of 16 during last year's Madden Ultimate League. He also finished tied for ninth at the Madden 19 Classic. He's a talented Madden competitor but needs to get over the hump if he wants to find himself a seat at this season's Madden Bowl in a few months.
Jelani “Jsthebest” Shelton (Group B)
Representing the Baltimore Ravens in the Madden 18 Club Championship, this San Diego, CA native has a reputation for upsetting big names, and has potential to do the same at the Madden 19 Challenge. He'll begin the tournament in a tough group alongside Spoto, Canes, and Boogz.
Stephen “VYElectrify” Appleblatt (Group C)
VYElectrify represented the New York Giants at the Madden 18 Club Championship, but was defeated in the first round. The New Jersey native finished the MCS18 season outside of the top 30 earners, so he's looking to bring home some cash at the Madden 19 Challenge and put his stamp on the competitive Madden scene. He finds himself in arguably the toughest group, alongside Drini, Gos, and JoeRice, so it may be tough sledding.
Douglas “Crush” Thiel (Group D)
After falling to Raidel “Echo Fox Joke” Brito in one of the most memorable games of the Madden 19 Club Championship, Crush is back to redeem himself. The 20-year-old cashed in at the Madden 19 Classic last December and earned top-40 finishes in the Madden 18 Challenge and Classic. This could be the tournament in which he finally breaks out.
Josiah “Siah” Jackson (Group A)
The Madden 19 Challenge live finals marks Siah's debut at an EA Major. His story is an interesting one, as he detailed on Twitter that he's been a game away from qualifying for live events on three separate occasions in the past. Now that Siah has finally made a live event, we'll be watching closely to see if he can capitalize on the moment.
M17 draft champs I lost in group stage vs holly when I was 1 game away from live event. M18 I lost to bucksweep in Redskins club 1 game away from live event. M19 I lost to imtoomuch in cowboys club 1 game away from live event. I finally got over that hump and made a live event.— siah (@siah_jo1020) February 25, 2019
Kerry “KerryQ” Lee (Group D)
Though we haven't heard from KerryQ much over the last year or so, as his top-five finish at the Madden 17 Challenge proves that he has what it takes to excel in a live event. If he's able to advance beyond the group stage, KerryQ could put up a solid fight and even upset a few big names along the way.
Christian “Chritobin” Lomenzo (Group A)
The Madden 19 Challenge will be Chritobin's first EA Major appearance, so we have yet to see how he can handle the bright lights. He's in a tough group alongside Madden 19 Club Champion Pavan, Madden 17 Challenge winner BeastModeMac, and another newcomer, Siah.
— Matt Franciscovich (Follow Matt on Twitter @MattFranchise)
For more information on the Madden Championship Series and how to compete in future events, visit the Madden NFL 19 compete homepage. Keep it locked on the @MaddenLeagueOps Twitter handle for content, news updates, tournament coverage, and more.