Electronic Arts and The CW announced that a prime-time TV special focusing on the EA Sports Madden NFL 19 Classic event will air today from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Pacific and Eastern (8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Central and Mountain).

The special will chronicle the esports event, which took place over three days in December in Las Vegas. But it will also highlight the friendship and strength of Madden esports players following the August shooting at a competition in Jacksonville. That attack claimed the lives of two Madden players, Elijah Clayton and Taylor Robertson.

“It’d be impossible for us not to touch on it and talk about its after-effects,” said Todd Sitrin, EA’s competitive gaming division senior vice president and general manager. “It’s not a major focus of the special, but clearly the Jacksonville tragedy influences the story. We wanted to make sure that we could acknowledge, obviously, what happened in Jacksonville, but [we wanted to] do it in a very simple and respectful way. Every player that’s playing in these competitions and everyone that’s part of the community was deeply affected. It’s very much a storyline throughout the special.”

“This is really about representing out to the world that one act doesn’t define the Madden community, and that they want to get back to competing and participating in the game that they love,” Sitrin continued. “I think that’s really where the focus is in the CW special.”

Following 2017’s success

The CW aired a similar special in 2018 that focused on the previous year’s tournament. According to EA, that was 2018’s most-watched esports broadcast.

This year, the Madden NFL Classic was an open event, meaning amateurs could also compete for a chance at winning the tournament. The event attracted over 200 players.

“What you’re watching in the CW special is obviously the top of the top competing, but we actually want to have people compete in Madden regardless of their skill level,” Sitrin said. “Some people will have the skill that can make it to a broadcast like this. We’ve only been running competitions for a couple of years. We’re still in the early part of the growth of esports for our games. It’s important that we continue to build and grow, and that we bring more people in.”