5 Playing Tips from a Madden Champion

Madden has ballooned into a giant franchise with countless competitive players and YouTube personalities.


Madden has changed. You wouldn’t believe it right away, given the yearly gripes — every release is just a roster update, purportedly new features are just old ones from years past that were removed, the commentators don’t comment on every single thing that’s happening — but Peter Torres, editor of MaddenGurus.com, knows it for a fact.

He’s run the site since ’06. “I was just a regular gamer,” he recalls of founding the site, “who just started playing the game pretty much every waking moment, went out and won a Madden Challenge tournament.” He played online until he became a regular fixture in the top 100 players worldwide, sometimes even the top five. “Back then there wasn’t really YouTube, where people could go online and find stuff.” The commonness of Let’s Play videos would have sounded absurd back then, much less an abundance of free guides. “So people are always asking me, can I help them, can I play with them privately, can I tell them what I’m doing [to get better].” Thus, MaddenGurus was born, a one-man help center of sorts for players looking to up their game.

Madden holds a special place among the gaming community — it’s both a professional hotspot for tournaments and big-money prizes, and an old standby for friendly (or not so friendly) competition among chums. And, like many sports games, it takes a lot of playing time to get good. After being beat down one too many times by friends, we decided we could use Torres’s help on a few simple tips for the most recent version, Madden 16.

1 Balance your offensive runs. “Try to have a really good inside and outside run combination,” Torres says. “Specifically for this year, Madden NFL 16, I would say that if you have a toss and a fullback dive, out of a good formation like strong close, that can be pretty deadly in and of itself.” Be sure to practice passing out of that same formation; you’ll be nigh unstoppable, and unreadable.

2 Don’t control a safety during defensive plays. “If you cheat down,” Torres says, “they could hit you over the top.” Additionally, “never control a defensive lineman; that can mess up your pressure. Some people, they get on a defensive lineman and then just run up the quarterback. But there’s some routes on offense that the computer just won’t cover; sometimes you have to manually cover them. So you have to be on someone who’s on coverage to do that.” Torres recommends controlling a linebacker or a slot corner.

3 Ignore new mechanics if you want.Madden NFL 16 is the first installment in the franchise in a while to include highly specific throwing and catching methods. For competitive players, these can be clutch, but those accustomed to the simpler catching of old can get tripped up. “When they introduce a new feature,” Torres says, “you don’t necessarily have to use it. You can basically throw and catch the way you always have.” But if you want to master them — i.e., if you really want to bug your friends — drilling the moves in Skills Trainer mode is the only option. Whether you want to put in that kind of work for your weekly game is up to you.

4 Get really familiar with ball-carrier moves. Torres recommends the precision juke and, in particular, the double juke. “It’s extremely effective if you’re running at the right angle,” he says. “Basically what you do is, [if you’re running to the right], flick the right stick right, and then flick it to the left really quick. [The player] will do a tiny step to the right, and then a bigger step to the left… You can run right by like four people, sometimes five people.” Your timing and your angle are key here; running towards two o’clock is recommended, and running backs are best suited for the move.

5 What about teams? Torres is a fan of the Steelers this year (at least as it pertains to playing the game — please abstain from hate mail). Highlights for the team are a speedy running back, Le’Veon Bell, who makes a good wide receiver “If you wanna bomb it over the top,” along with a Thor-armed QB (Ben Roethlisberger) good for medium-to-long throws. And since the newest installment factors age into player ratings, youth is at a premium, making 23-year-old Le’Veon Bell and linebacker Ryan Shazier big assets. Aside from the Steelers, the Ravens boast the game’s fastest player (wide receiver Breshad Perriman), another strong-armed QB (Joe Flacco) and tip-top defense by way of Elvis Dumervil. A poor QB can really sabotage you — especially because, according to Torres, overthrow is a big problem in Madden NFL 16, with some quarterbacks overthrowing by an absurd 10 yards or so. So stay away from the Vikings, the Titans and the Raiders. (Again — please abstain from hate mail.)

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