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For Dwayne Wood, winning Madden Championship Series belt would be ‘greatest feeling in the world’

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Wood’s return to a live-event showcase coincided with a shake-up in his life: He moved from one residence to another in the same week in which he needed to win enough games in the early (double-elimination) period to reach the Ultimate Thanksgiving final eight. Despite spending most of the week packing up his belongings and, with the help of his younger brothers, moving them to his new home, Wood was still able to focus well enough to reach another live event.

Amid Wood’s rise to Madden fame, he also became a father; he welcomed his son, Dwayne Wood III, into the world less than two years ago. Mizesko sees Wood’s latest achievement as yet another example of what makes Wood an exceptionally mature individual in the Madden community, one who is undeterred, even when his personal life is undergoing change.

“Seeing him become not just the Madden player that he is but sort of that man that he is, it’s just a combination of everything,” Mizesko said. … “You add in the fact he’s had to play a lot of Madden games and lose a lot of Madden games … and now he’s doing it all for his son at home, it’s a perfect storm of characteristics that sort of make him who he is.”

Wood now plays Madden for more than just the glory of victory — it’s how he provides for his son, a full-time job that takes up a significant portion of his daily life, which he spends constantly working on his craft.

“This thing right here is as competitive as it gets,” Wood said. “This is how dudes eat. This is how I eat. This is personal. This ain’t just a video game. This is your life. If you’ve got a family, this is how you feed your family. People say, ‘Oh, it’s just a game.’ No, it’s not just a game.

“Not only that, you got people — like me, I play for legacy. I want to win multiple belts. I want to be one of the greatest to ever do it. You watch LeBron (James) play, and his why, and why he keeps playing as long as he can play and the things that push him and why he want to win championships. Somebody like Henry, it’s the same thing. Dudes want to cement a legacy for when they’re done playing.”

Wood said his accomplishment in reaching the final eight of the Ultimate Thanksgiving tournament was about more than satisfying his appetite for competition. It’s about proving doubters — those who see him as a commentator and not a competitor, those who might argue he’s washed up after half a decade of elite performance — that they couldn’t be more wrong.

“For me, now, my legacy is winning a belt,” Wood said. “Because I know once I win a belt, I will undeniably be a top-five Madden Championship Series player to ever play. That’s it.”

As Mizesko put it, Wood is seen as a “Phil Mickelson” type, an “uber-talented player, somebody who has made a lot of top-twos, but hasn’t been able to win that belt.” A win in the Ultimate Thanksgiving event would change all that. Perhaps even more important to Wood, though, are the new doors a title belt would open for him, the entire Madden community and esports as a whole, which Wood believes has no visible ceiling.

“If I win a belt, I feel I can help push this sport,” Wood said. “Because I’m not scared to speak, I’m not scared to show my personality, I’m not scared to show who I am. I’m not scared to show you who I am. I’m not scared to show you I’m just like you, or I’m just like an athlete. That’s how I act.

“That’s another motivation. I want to help grow this thing as far as I can grow it. … The more I win, the more opportunities I can get to help grow this thing.”

Belt or no belt, Madden has already had a life-changing impact on Wood, and he has no plans of slowing down any time soon.

“Dramatically, from every which way,” Wood said. “Financially, socially, mentally — I mean, I got a PS5 chain. I got a chain right here on me. I wouldn’t have this just doing something else.”

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