We had the chance to speak with the producer of Madden NFL 16’s brand new Draft Champion mode Tom Lishke at E3 today. He gave us the inside scoop into what will be one of Madden NFL 16’s most played modes!

For several years, some of the most common questions and comments heard around the EA SPORTS studio were related to Fantasy Football.

“What are you going to do with Fantasy Football?”

“Madden NFL should be doing Fantasy.”

If you asked five different people, you’d get six different answers. The challenge is delivering the “core” fantasy draft experience without losing the on-field excitement that Madden NFL fans have come to expect. In Madden NFL 16’s Draft Champions, the team has delivered on both fronts.

The first thing our team did was take a look at the traditional Fantasy Football experience: a 12-16 round snake draft spread out over a few hours. While this can be a lot of fun with friends, it can be a really long event. Also, without the pizza, wings and trash talk, the experience loses something.

That format also has two downsides from a Madden point of view. Not only is it tough to organize that many people for a large event (just ask your Commissioner), but the actual time spent drafting players is very small.

Fantasy Football is a lot of fun, but we realized the Madden NFL version needed some tweaks.

THE GOAL

Having identified the challenges, we asked ourselves “What is the core fun of Fantasy Football that will work for Madden?” It is pretty obvious: Making the pick. Choosing the player that is going to carry your team. Draft night is the best part of Fantasy Football. The goal of Draft Champions was giving players draft night over and over again.

Draft Champions adds to the Fantasy Football experience by paying off draft night immediately. As soon as the draft is over, players can take the new squad onto the field. The result? A very tight draft experience that distills the best parts of Fantasy Football, and combining it with an exciting Madden event that can be completed in an evening.

Anyone who gets through a head-to -head gauntlet will truly be worthy of the title “Draft Champion.”

DRAFT NIGHT REIMAGINED

The team had four goals with the creation of Madden NFL 16 Draft Champions: Always on the Clock. Every Pick Matters. Keep it Tight. Replayable.

Draft Champions begins by picking from one of three coaches, which helps ensures each draft will be different and the pace remains high. Coaches determine a team’s offensive and defensive playbooks, and also defines two default “Styles,” typically one offensive and one defensive. Your team’s uniform is determined by your favorite team. Simply update the team choice to change uniforms.

A base team is then generated, which is playable but relatively low-rated. There is a group of players that are available for base team rosters.

While OVR ratings are similar, there will be some variety in the types of players that show up. Over time, Draft Champion players realize which players should stay, and which should be upgraded.

UPGRADING YOUR TEAM

Now comes the heart of the experience, drafting players to upgrade your team. Players have the choice of three players in each round, and with a limited number of rounds, each pick matters.

Every draft will be different; there may be a number of highly-rated wide receivers and half backs in one draft, and a number of safeties or linebackers in another. Every pick will be an upgrade over the base team, and Draft Champions will give players tough decisions in every round.

Unlike a typical draft, the quality of players to choose from rises and falls from round to round. One draft may create a defensive juggernaut, while another could create a power running game behind a dominant offensive line.

Let’s look at a couple sample rounds:

1. Which position is most important to me right now, CB, SS or TE?

2. Do I go for depth at WR or strengthen my line?

3. Which legend do I want to focus my team around?

4. Do I go for the higher rated player, or take a player to help my style rating?

A typical draft consists of 15 player rounds; the limited number of rounds mean that you are always on the clock and every pick is crucial. Experienced players will be able to move through the draft quickly, but Draft Champions includes tools to take a deeper look at players before making a selection.

The limited number of rounds and players per round also mean that every draft will be different. Players competing in Draft Champions can play repeatedly without ever building and/or facing the same team.

YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP

After the draft, it’s time to take the new squad onto the field. Choosing a Solo Draft gives players up to three games against AI opponents. With each victory, the quality of the competition will increase until the championship game in the brand new Draft Champions Stadium.

Players looking for a real challenge can jump into a Head-to-Head draft. While drafts happen independently, taking on the best players in Madden NFL 16 will provide the ultimate test for your drafting skills. Win four games in a row to become a true Draft Champion!

The number of games in each event are relatively low in order to preserve the “Madden Fantasy in a Night” feel for Draft Champions. Even if you get knocked out, you get to jump right back in and draft another team.

We couldn’t be more excited to get Draft Champions into your hands to see how we answered the question, “What does Madden do with Fantasy Football?”

Your Draft. Your Team. Your Championship.


 

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Curtis Knight
A fan of sports game since his first EA sports title Madden 93. "The Natural" has been an active member of the Sports Gaming community since joining the MWS in 2003. Having participated and won in the Madden challenge and countless other tournaments earlier in his career he has moved on to more of a sim style over the years. He is always looking to do what he can to push simulation style gaming forward.