The first EA Major of the 2018 season happened this weekend in Burbank, California, and congratulations to Michael Skimbo who bested Raidel "Joke" Brito in the finals to take home the belt. Well, the belt I kept trying to steal as host of the "Player's Lounge" on the EA stream. It had been a few years since I was this immersed in the championship run and I'm more impressed at ever at the level of play by all of the competitors. It was cool to see some familiar faces, along with a new crop of gamers who are going to take this sport to the next level.
Skimbo is closing in on Eric "Problem" Wright for the title of best Madden player on the planet. Skimbo even sported a "New GOAT" T-shirt after he won. Which is a pretty boss move, to know you have that shirt on while playing. Imagine Tom Brady playing in his already printed championship T-shirt. Actually, I can imagine that.
Joke was anything but during his epic run up to the finals. And then you have my guy Dubby and Tweez, who was sort of a Cinderella story. But I don't want to make it seem like he wasn't a great competitor. He took Skimbo to the limit (and overtime) but was ultimately felled by a coin toss. I know Peyton Manning complained about not getting a possession in OT that one year the Colts lost to the Chargers in the playoffs (which actually seemed like every year), but he was probably going to throw a crippling interception anyway. However, I would have liked to see what Tweez could have done with one more chance. He's clearly a name to remember in the future.
Great tournament, which was held in the "classic" form, with the competitors on the couch next to each other instead of in isolation like it's some 1980s game show. They had to play like we (or at least I) grew up playing. I might not have been the best game-planner or strategist. But I had a way to get into their minds, like a Madden version of Paul Heyman. When you get your opponent to play you, and not the fake Seahawks on the screen, you've already won.
The next major is the Madden Challenge. Those finals will be December 15 and 16, and I look forward to seeing those competitors go. Especially my dude, Kaus -- former Maryland basketball star Kent Auslander. This guy, he's the dude in your dorm who was a little animated while you played Madden. Love him. Don't ever stop being you.
But anyway, let's take a look at some guys who should be moving and shaking in Madden.
»Amari Cooper figures to benefit from his 210-yard and two touchdown performance against the the Chiefs. But is his catch rating going to be moving up? He was targeted 19 times. He caught 11 of them. There were times where he still looked like Sinjin Smith out there on the football field. But overall, you can't deny his performance on the field.
»Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz also need to be moving up the ratings as well. Wentz showed his great ability to escape pressure and then emerge on the other end, like a bunny who had been flushed from the bushes to gain a first down. Wentz also showed a pretty strong arm as well, going deep on a number of occasions against a decent Redskins defense. And look, I'm probably the biggest Gronk fan not from the New England area. I marked a number of years ago when he said he was honored to be part of my MUT team. Ertz isn't far behind. It's becoming undeniable at this point.
» We also should give a shout-out to another talented tight end, O.J. Howard, who had 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Bills. He was so open on one of those scores, I would have either thrown the controller or rage quit. Or both. And here's a pro-tip for you kids. I learned a long time ago to wear a hat when I'm playing Madden. Because it's much less damaging to the controller to toss the chapeau.