Being a hardcore football fan, I’m always on the prowl looking for a new football league to dive head first into, a trait that drives my family insane because football is always on in my house. My journey searching for those leagues led me, last year, to the European League of Football. While I wasn’t able to dive into the league like I wanted, I was able to follow and keep tabs on the league through social media outlets. Due to that brief introduction into the league, I decided that 2023 would be the year I dive, head first, into the league. Week one has just passed and I can say, without hesitation or reservations, that the ELF has gained a fan for life.
The first thing to do while needing to get involved with the league was follow the league and it’s teams on all social media accounts; that was rather easy because everything is easy to find and there’s no need to search for ELF-related accounts. The next thing I needed to do was brush up a bit on what to expect for the 2023 season: another easy task to accomplish due to the information being easily accessible. The only thing left to do was buy the League Pass through the app/website and I was ready to go. The league pass, at first glance, seems a bit pricey; it equals out to roughly $107 in American dollars, a price point that is a little steeper than most passes for leagues not named the NFL.
I can assure, with the access you receive, the money is well worth it. You get access to watch all 107 games, which means that the price comes out to $1 a game – that sounds worth it right? Well, in case that doesn’t sell you, you also get access to all the games On Demand, which means if you missed a game, you can revisit that game later in the week! There’s another feature that makes the money worth it but we’ll save that for a bit later in the article. Actually, enough of all that, let me get into the real meat of this article and share my positives(and some minor negatives) with everyone.
Style and Gameplay
The first thing that stuck out to me was how good the product looked on the field. From the jerseys, to actual gameplay down to the officiating, the ELF presents a really strong product that passes the visual eye test. The aesthetics are just part of the overall product, but are always one of the most important factors when it comes to creating new fans. The ELF does a really strong job of putting together solid streaming quality. The one area that they may lack in the most when it comes to overall presentation is that not every game had an English announcer, even though there was an English option for every game, which could turn away fans. But, out of the eight games that the ELF had in week one, all but two had an English announcer, so it’s the lack of an English announcer is definitely in the minority.
To my surprise, the very first kickoff that I ever witnessed in the ELF came in the form of the XFL rules. That’s right, the ELF also uses the XFL style of kickoff rules. That was a pleasant surprise considering it’s one of the unique XFL rules that I do enjoy. From that point forward, everything else felt authentic. One of the things I learned from week one is that the ELF has some big time former NFL personnel in the league, which adds to the overall feel of the league. At one point on Saturday, I had five games going at once and if I didn’t tell you which league was which, you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. That’s right – the most impressive thing about this league came in the form that it felt and looked like the same kind of play from the USFL and XFL. I said this the other day off camera on The Spring Football Report and it blew one of my colleagues’ minds because it’s definitely not something you would expect.
Amazing Individual Performances
While football is a team game and success is determined by how well a team works as a cohesive unit, individual performances are one of the major reasons people tune in to watch the game we love. And week one didn’t disappoint in the slightest. The top five quarterbacks in the stat column after the first week all threw for over 300 yards and multiple touchdowns. Obviously, that doesn’t sound very good for defenses, but when you consider the fact that there were four expansion teams playing and three of the top five quarterbacks came from games in which expansion teams were playing.
The most impressive performance, however, came from wide receiver Jarvis McClam. McClam, who plays for the Raiders Tirol, had a kickoff return for a touchdown, a receiving touchdown and a passing touchdown. Jarvis accumulated 435 all-purpose yards to go along with those three touchdowns. So, if you watch football for individual performances, the ELF doesn’t appear to be short on providing amazing performances.
Heading into the 2023 season, the ELF took on their most ambitious tasks to date: six, yes SIX, expansion teams. In week one, five of the six teams played. There were a lot of eyes on those games because of the intrigue and hype surrounding the teams and players. And the ELF should be ecstatic with the results that they received from those expansion teams. Of the five teams that played, only one team really didn’t compete in their matchup. Unfortunately for the Enthroners, they drew the short straw and ended up opening the season against one of the strongest teams in the league against the Berlin Thunder.
Other than that one game, every other game was competitive for a majority of their games, even if the final score didn’t necessarily reflect that observation. The Munich Ravens, Prague Lions, and Helvetic Guards played fairly close games, I’ll say in for about 60% of their games, before the more veteran teams separated themselves. The Fehervar Enthroners were the only team to lose badly, but again, they played one of the better teams in the league. The Paris Musketeers(the image says Paris Saints, but they changed the name shortly after the announcement for legal reasons), were the only expansion to walk with a win; a pretty amazing start for the franchise!
The Istanbul Rams did not return to the ELF for the 2023 season and 2024 is still unknown. But the ELF has announced a new expansion franchise located in Madrid, Spain for the 2024 season with speculation of possibility two more in the future. As it stands right now, the ELF has 18 franchises for the 2024 season.
ELF Game Pass
Earlier in the article, I mentioned that the Game Pass was an excellent service offered by the ELF. While there was a couple small, minor downfalls to the service, they weren’t big enough for me to hang on them. The best service they provide with the Game Pass: Multiview. Yes, they offer a multiview option so you can watch up to four games at one time.
I had five games(all four ELF games plus the USFL game) on at one time and was able to see all the action I needed and wanted to see. The multi-view option isn’t available on the cell phone, it’s limited to the computer or laptop. One of the minor annoyances with the ELF Game Pass is that they currently don’t offer a Roku app to be able to watch. So, you’re forced to watch through other devices, which really isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. The Game Pass also offers individual game packages for games right around $7 if you don’t want to dive all-in like I did.
Overall, I had an excellent first experience with the league. The ELF is a legit product with a bright future if they continue to produce high quality football and the production value never drops off. Outside of some offensive line issues and some defensive issues, the overall quality of product is currently on par with the USFL and XFL. If you don’t know about this league, you absolutely should and you definitely check it out!
Three Positves/Three Minor Negatives – Other Observations
- Raiders Tirol QB Christian Strong had the best pass of the weekend/40 Minute Technical Issue Delay in Wroclaw/Hamburg
- High quality QB play/Suspect OL play
- Competitive Gameplay/Defending Champions didn’t play week one
That’s all I have for my introduction to the ELF and I’m stoked for future weeks. Look for my upcoming ELF podcast that should launch sometime after week two!
If you are a fan of the European League of Football, and other alternative football leagues check out our YouTube Channel, soon to feature Michael’s ELF Podcast. In the meantime we have a few interviews for you to enjoy including 2022 ELF Defensive Player of the Year.
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