EA SPORTS Ultimate Madden Bowl Moves to Vegas for Madden Championship Series Finale
In Super Bowl city, the final caps a year of return to ‘all live events in-person’
The Madden Championship Series (MCS) will crown the world’s best Madden player tonight in Las Vegas ahead of Super Bowl LVIII.
In the EA SPORTS Ultimate Madden Bowl Final, top-seeded Henry Leverette and 10th-seed Wesley Gittens will compete for part of a $1 million total prize pool, with $250,000 awarded to the champion. Leverette, a six-time winner, could become the first Madden player to surpass $1 million in career earnings.
This year’s edition of the MCS finale also marks the first time that Jostens, which has designed 37 Super Bowl rings to date, will design the diamond-laced championship ring for the Madden Bowl winner. In prior years, the champion has received a WWE-style belt.
“This has been a big year for us — our first year when we returned to all live events in person,” says Chad Bates, coordinating producer, Madden competitive gaming content and programming, EA. “To be able to cap it off at an event like this at the Super Bowl, where everyone’s going to be — it’s the center of football — is a unique opportunity for us.”
For the past few years, EA has used its broadcast facility in Redwood City, CA, for Madden events. This year, the gaming publisher and developer will call House of Blues in Las Vegas home for its MCS finale.
“When you’re going into a facility that was not built for this, pick a problem; they’re all going to show up,” says Joe Lynch, group director, content and programming, EA. “It is a wildly different ballgame. A whole bunch of layers of complexity get added by stepping out of our studio and into a field location.”
EA built a separate stage inside House of Blues to “put our players right in the middle of action,” says Bates. He adds that the company looks to have upwards of 400 audience members at House of Blues, marking the first time the publisher will have a controlled audience of that size for the event.
“We want to make this feel like this is the biggest Madden event we’ve ever done,” he explains. “We want to make it look and feel big. On football’s biggest stage, this is going to be Madden’s biggest moment. That’s what we want fans to take away. We always want to engage new viewers and bring the casual football Madden viewers into our world.”
A production crew of about 70 will be onsite, in addition to local utility and stage-hand assistance from House of Blues. An estimated five to 10 EA social-media and content staffers will manage distribution across multiple channels, including X (formerly known as Twitter) and TikTok.
Event transmission will be through a fiber-based high-speed internet service connected to a virtual network-operations center to distribute content. It’ll be managed by Lumen Vyvx.
A total of 11 cameras will be deployed onsite for tonight’s production, including a Sony HDC-2500 wired Steadicam, four Sony HDC-2500 pedestals, one Sony HDC-2500 tripod, two Sony A7III player POV cameras, and one Panasonic AW-UE150K PTZ camera (via HOB).
At its California facility, EA typically uses a jib camera, but at House of Blues, “there’s not enough room” to do so, says Jorell Cacatian, manager, technical production, EA. Instead, the production will also feature two Sony HDC-P1’s (RF Steadicams) with wide-angle lenses.
NEP Chromium and B-unit Nickel HD production trucks will be onsite for the event. EA plans to integrate several rental packages into the production, with Filmwerks providing generator/power and Aerial Video Systems handling RF video and prompter.
Bexel will supply multiple components, including camera pedestals, RF audio, communications, and video monitoring; FingerWorks, its telestration technology; and Extreme Lighting, its 1-ton grip truck.
Meanwhile, Lexus, presenting sponsor of the Ultimate Madden Bowl, will have its new 2024 Lexus GX onsite for the finale. According to Bates, EA had some discussions with Lexus about incorporating an augmented-reality element into the broadcast to further activate its sponsorship, but the automaker instead opted to have a physical vehicle at House of Blues.
The Ultimate Madden Bowl Final will air at 9:30 p.m. ET across NFL 24 Twitch and YouTube channels. Special \ guests will include Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James Jr. and NFL Network host and media personality Kyle Brandt.