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EA Sports Challenge Series $1 million tournament returns for second year

Start practicing your Madden, NHL, and FIFA skills

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

The EA Sports Challenge Series, Virgin Gaming's tournament for EA Sports games, is now an annual event.

This year's tournament, which took place in New York in April, distributed a prize pool of $1 million among the top half of nearly 900 competitors from 12 countries.

The 2013 Challenge Series covers this fall's EA Sports games: Madden NFL 13, NHL 13, and FIFA 13. EA and Virgin Gaming say they've simplified the process this time around. Entry into the tournament costs $10, although players who buy the titles at GameStop will get in for free. The tournament is exclusive to the PlayStation 3 versions of those games.

With four consecutive wins during the qualifying period (October 9th, 2012, through January 1st, 2013), gamers can secure a berth in the semifinal round — but there are only 1,024 seats for Madden and FIFA, and 512 spots for NHL, so getting in early matters. The semifinals will take place on January 7th and 8th; two wins are needed to move on to the finals.

The final round is set for February 9th in Las Vegas. The tournament's top 256 Madden 13 and FIFA 13 players will be fighting over a $400,000 prize pool for each game (grand prize: $140,000), while 128 NHL 13 finalists will battle for a share of $200,000 (grand prize: $70,000). Everyone at the finals will go home with at least $500 for their trouble, and the people they beat to get there — those who finished 257th-512th for Madden and FIFA, and 129th-256th for NHL — will each receive $50. Players can compete in all three tournaments.

Madden NFL 13 launched on August 28th. NHL 13 will be out next Tuesday, September 11th. FIFA 13 will be released on September 25th.