October 6th, 2021
How a team of dreamers brought the first-ever NFL Madden championship to Europe
December 2019, fresh off 15 years in corporate business, suits, ties, french cuffs, and “bored-room” meetings, Chris “trumpetmonkey” Simpson, an avid gamer and streamer, excitedly lands the role of a lifetime at a Latvian esports production company, with global aspirations.
The task before him was both simple and daunting: introduce Goexanimo to every game developer and gaming consumer brand on the planet.
So he got to work! And whilst going about his day-to-day duties, little did he, the team, or anyone else know, that this would eventually lead to achieving one of his most ambitious and far-fetched dreams: bringing an EA NFL Madden championship to Europe.
The early going on was tough: who do we even approach? EA seems to be this massive and impenetrable corporate fortress: where even securing someone’s job title, let alone their email address seems nearly impossible! Plus Goexanimo, at that stage, had only one major global esport project under their belt. Chris and the team were (and needed to be) “in this for the long haul!”
So Chris went about this monumental task as he had for the last 15 years: introducing himself to leaders within the international esports and gaming community at every level, and using every tool available to him: LinkedIn, website “contact us forms”, emails, events, social media, and even streams!
Of course, business development and expansion of the Goexanimo brand lead to other exciting opportunities, with other massive game devs and brands: such as the PUBG Pro Sessions, and FIBA Esports Open 1, 2, and 3. So whilst the team were seemingly getting nowhere with EA, they were building a great portfolio of projects, and all-important “credibility” within the industry: which would eventually prove vital.
The breakthrough FINALLY came in February 2021. Following an official Twitch watch party on Trumpetmonkey’s stream, he received an innocuous and generic “thanks for participating, please complete this survey” email from an anonymous source within EA. So Chris completed the survey, and took his shot! When asked “what would you like to see in competitive Madden 22?” he answered opportunistically: “I’d LOVE to see a Madden tournament in Europe: and my company can even produce it - just like we produced the FIBA Esports Open events”.
“I’d LOVE to see a Madden tournament in Europe: and my company can even produce it..."
Little did he know that this one simple sentence, on a survey that he expected no one to read, would eventually lead to the opportunity of a lifetime!
In March 2021, an email arrived in Chris’s inbox that would change the fate of the company forever. A brilliant representative within EA’s Madden competitive team had diligently read the survey reply and was contacting Goexanimo to set up an intro call. Chris remembers clearly the moment he finally got to send his team the slack message he had been waiting to send since December 2019: “Mates! EA finally wants to meet with us about a possible European Madden tourney!”
What followed next was several months of amazing and open communication with the EA team, dozens of meetings (internal and external), roughly 1000 project hours, and no fewer than 3 different pitch decks to EA and the NFL. And this was just to pitch the concept! Thankfully, in this case, the hard work paid off!
Working in esports certainly can test the limits of your patience and sanity! Right up until two weeks before the tournament date, Chris and the team were waiting on final approval from EA and the NFL. But then it was all systems go! And the buzz was real! The entire Madden community, globally, got behind what was to be the first official licensed EA NFL Madden 22 esport tournament in Europe!
On September 22nd, 2021, Chris finally achieved his dream: with the help of the NFL, EA, and an amazing Goexanimo team, the first-ever Madden Europe Invitational took place! A humble event by all global standards, it was still vitally significant to Madden as an esport in Europe. Europe’s 4 best professional Madden players fought to be crowned THE Madden King of Europe: and the skills on display did not disappoint.
The stars of the show were the players and the amazing commentary team. And the play of the tournament came in the grand final when Liam O’Brien stamped his authority on Madden esports in Europe and stole the show with one of the best displays of stick skill ever seen in competitive Madden.
The show itself had cameo shout-outs from NFL players, massive Madden YouTube stars, and streamers. Madden communities from Australia, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the UK, Mexico, Canada, and the USA all tuned in to watch and support.
“EA and the NFL have a 5-year roadmap pitch deck from us, to expand Madden throughout Europe… so let’s wait and see!”
We asked Chris what’s next, and he gives a wry grin, telling us: “EA and the NFL have a 5-year roadmap pitch deck from us, to expand Madden throughout Europe… so let’s wait and see!”
As was and is the case: to realize big dreams, sometimes all you need is hard work and patience…