SSgt. Charles Massey wins Madden NFL 20 tournament

Staff Sgt. Charles Massey, a Quartermaster School instructor at Fort Lee, indicates he’s No. 1 after winning an Madden NFL 20 esports grand championship tournament Nov. 8-10 in Frisco, Texas. The hotel where the event took place is next door to the Dallas Cowboy training facility. An avid fan of the team, Massey met some of the players during his trip.

A staff sergeant and devoted Dallas Cowboys football fan here recently celebrated four highpoints in his life all in one weekend – and he owes it all to a video game.

From Nov. 8-10, Staff Sgt. Charles Massey, a Quartermaster School instructor, was at a hotel in Frisco, Texas, right next door to the home of his beloved football team, to play Madden NFL 20 in a grand championship tournament.

Massey won the Army Entertainment Esports Showdown, the apex of his achievements that weekend. He also met two Madden Championship Series belt winners, one of whom is Drini Gjoka, a 20-year-old Madden superstar – a second highpoint item that can be crossed off his bucket list.

The fellow gamers fed Massey’s fandom, then he talked and played Madden with Dallas Cowboy alumnus Raghib Ramadian “Rocket” Ismail, who Massey watched while growing up. After the tournament, the staff sergeant got pictures and autographs with his blue-star-wearing team at its training facility for his final highpoint.

“To be able to meet the two EA Sports MCS belt winners who I have watched play and hope to be one day, and to actually have them in front of me and ask them questions, was crazy for me,” Massey exclaimed. “Talking to Drini himself was all I needed.

“Also for me as a Cowboys fan to have the players directly in front of me, and to be able to play Madden and talk with one about the seasons he played and his philosophy of how the game is, is something I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance to do again.”

The 34-year-old Massey has been playing video games since he was around 8 years old. Among them, the Madden series has received the bulk of his attention over the years.

“In the past, my wife has told me to stop playing video games, but I think she’s learned it’s not just a pastime for me,” Massey said. “I’m actually good at it. I’ve proved that point.”

His recent esports win was not his first. He has competed in local tournaments and ones in Maryland, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Texas and New York. His wife travels with him to those events, and the family has reaped the benefits of his video game prowess.

“It’s a sport now, and there’s money to be made,” Massey said. “I’ve made about $16,000 in a year-and-a half, and Madden has paid off two cars already.”

Massey was a competitor for Army Esports during the Frisco tournament, and he talked to the program’s representatives about becoming a full-time team member in the future. He said they’re interested in him, but Madden is not part of their online inventory right now.

“They can’t officially make me a part of their team until they adopt the game,” he further explained. “I want to work with them, and I think they may adopt Madden, but I’m not sure. It would be a great chance for me to do what I love and serve the Army as well.”

The Army Esports Team is a Recruiting Command endeavor meant to establish connections with prospective enlistees through the emerging-yet-popular esports community and its competitive events.

“If we are going to be successful in recruiting, then we need to be where young people are – and they are operating in the digital world,” was the observation of Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, commanding general for USAREC, when the esports program was launched. Individuals can follow them on social media at www.facebook.com/usarmyesports.

Massey also is working toward playing professionally, further fueled by his encounter with the star Madden players while in Texas. The belt winners gave him tips on what he needs to do to become a full-time gamer and the standing he needs, which he is now working toward.

“If I can convince my wife I can make money with Madden, we’ll be good to go,” Massey said with a sly smile.