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Johnson looks to defend LevelNext Madden national championship for WVU Esports

Noah Johnson on Mountaineer Field

A year after helping West Virginia make its presence known on the collegiate esports scene, Noah Johnson is set to defend his LevelNext Madden national championship as he prepares for the next round of the tournament starting today (Sept. 27).

Johnson, a sophomore economics student from Ellicott City, Md., was WVU’s first scholarship esports athlete when the program started in October 2021, and is currently the No. 1 collegiate Madden player in the country and the No. 2 Madden player in the world.

“I’m feeling great going into the tournament,” Johnson said. “I’m excited to try and bring another national championship back to Morgantown.”

Johnson recently finished second in the Madden Championship Series Ultimate Kickoff. He knows that coming into the LevelNext tournament as the defending national champion gives him a lot of attention from the other competitors who are looking to show they deserve to be in the conversation as one of the best in the country, but Johnson believes he thrives in that type of setting.

“There’s definitely a target on my back, but that makes it more fun for me. Just knowing that I’m going to be getting everyone’s attention and their best game when we match up is something I really like,” he said.

“Things feel different for sure, there’s a lot more hype and noise around our whole program. But I just try to focus on doing my job and winning.”

As the University’s first player in the esports program, Johnson said it’s been great to see the way the program has continued to develop as a whole in all of the games the Mountaineers compete in. In addition to Johnson’s success in Madden, WVU is also ranked in the top 10 nationally in Rocket League and Valorant — with both teams finishing second and fourth, respectively, in national tournaments.

Continuing to have that kind of success in this year’s LevelNext tournament is just another way for West Virginia to make its mark as a premier destination in esports.

“Winning makes everything easier,” Johnson said. “We just all have to keep winning and everything else will fall into place.”

The LevelNext Madden National Championship runs through October 20, in which the tournament will crown the top collegiate player in the country during a live broadcast. The tournament features a cash prize pool of $150,000 — $50,000 of which is awarded directly to 20 participating esports programs through a Twitter competition.

Follow WVU Esports on Twitter for updates about Noah’s run in the tournament at and follow to watch live broadcasts of WVU Esports events throughout the year.