The Champions (2018 to 2023)

‘The Champions’ (2018-2023) is funny and clever from Bleacher Report

The Champions popped up on HBOMax (currently known as Max) recently, and I was a little confused by the context of this brilliant animated series, i.e. where did this come from? Originally created for the Bleacher Report by comedic writer-producer Andy Haynes, this was a web series on Youtube, mirroring the Champions League (CL) from 2018 through 2023.

In line with other Bleacher Report animations written and directed by The Malamut Brothers (Adam Malamut and Craig Malamut), The Champions riffs on what would happen if the 800 players and managers of Champions League clubs were required to live in a giant resort together, each club in a giant dorm room, with elite personalities stereotyped and exaggerated for laughs. For example:

  • Messi largely speaks through his hand puppet Pelota
  • Ronaldo a perfect narcissist who refuses to age
  • Jurgen Klopp is the nicest, smiliest guy ever
  • Mourinho is Mourinho
  • Neymar is only interested in his brand
  • Lewandowski is too old and out of touch with his young teammates
  • Gareth Bale can’t speak Spanish except for “Estoy herido”
  • Sergio Ramos tries to hurt everyone
  • Pulisic is a clueless young kid
  • Harry Kane mumbles so much he can’t be understood
  • Alfonso Davies is always on TikTok
  • Mbappe is scheming to assume the mantle of world’s greatest footballer

If you are a football fan, you will recognize all the stories and tropes. The Writer-Director Malamut brothers were able to leverage the vast knowledge of the Bleacher Report staff like an online encyclopedia. But when those ideas run out, then the series goes for absurdity, such as the CL goalkeepers control a giant robot (á la the film Pacific Rim) to keep a giant meteor from destroying Earth. But when they fail to stop the meteor, the destruction is reversed by Galactic VAR.

By Episode 6, Messi and Ronaldo end up in alternate universes where the Super League has destroyed FIFA, or football has never been invented. By Episode 7, Mbappe has hatched a plan to get his competition to transfer to Saudi Arabia and out of the Champions League.

A fan summarized all the tropes in the series here. There is a fandom wiki here.

There are so many in-jokes, I would have to watch the series again to catch them all. Just enjoy the tropes and savor this clever comedic animation about football.

8 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 8