Feature

Looking Back At The Most Dominant Sports Teams In Video Game History

by Matt Bertz on Jul 06, 2016 at 01:15 PM

When Kevin Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors earlier this week, he didn't just strengthen one of the top two basketball teams in the world, he broke a video game in the process. Based on last year's player ratings, Durant slotting into the Dubs' starting five gives the team four players rated 89 or above, making them a grossly overpowered team in NBA 2K. Even if the recently crowned Cleveland Cavaliers had added Dwyane Wade to their roster (he chose the Bulls instead), LeBron and co. will have a tough time contending with the sharp-shooting/shutdown defense combo the Warriors wield.

Modern sports video games often strive to keep the competitive balance with their online modes – for every Real Madrid the opposing player could choose a Barcelona FC or Bayern Munich and stay competitive – but unless Visual Concepts severely nerfs the Warriors this just won't be possible in NBA 2K17. In real life, Golden State is absurdly overloaded with the kind of talent that could create a dynasty. Teams that dominant may be a rarity these days, but they have occasionally popped up throughout the history of sports games. Here are a handful of world-beating clubs that gave any player a run for their money. 

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS – R.B.I. BASEBALL (NES)

On paper, the St. Louis Cardinals scare nobody. Only one batter in the lineup has a batting average above .300, and only one has more than 13 home runs as well. The Detroit Tigers were the best-slugging team in the game, but in the hands of a baseball aficionado the Cardinals were borderline unbeatable thanks to a strong pitching line-up and the one thing you can't coach – speed. The de facto stand-in for Rickey Henderson (who wasn't in the game since his team at the time, the Yankees, weren't included), Cards lead-off man Vince Coleman was a base-stealing machine. Get him on base and you likely could advance him to third base with a couple well-timed steals and/or bunts. This small ball approach extends throughout the line-up, with Ozzie Smith and Tommy Herr, and Willie McGee also capable of grand theft base. 

LOS ANGELES RAIDERS – TECMO BOWL (NES)

We list this entry as the Raiders, but we all know we're really just talking about one player – Bo Jackson. The multi-sport superstar is one of the most dangerous players in video game history. Don't believe us? Check this video out. Even with a mediocre quarterback and defense, the Raiders were always a threat thanks to Jackson's unrivaled ability to run through or around most any player. Hall of Famer Marcus Allen also shared the backfield, giving the silver and black a dangerous duo that keeps defenses honest. The Tecmo Bowl games were largely balanced, with each team having an identifiable strength and weakness, but in the right hands Bo didn't just know football; he unfairly dominated it.

THE AMERICAN DREAMS – BASEBALL STARS (NES)

The most difficult computer-controlled team from the NES era was also deadly in the hands of players. Built of a who's who line-up of baseball legends like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, Cy Young, and Willie Mays, the American Dreams were the undisputed best team in this popular and influential baseball title. They also served as the primary impetus for creating your own team and building up your players' stats so you could properly compete with the best of the best. 

UTAH JAZZ – NBA JAM (Arcade/SNES/Genesis)

With the best basketball player of all time sitting this tournament out thanks to licensing issues, the door opened for a dynamic duo to take the trophy that rightfully belonged to Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Though they never won a championship in real-life (thanks to His Airness) John Stockton and Karl Malone dominated the competition in NBA Jam thanks to complementary skills that paired perfectly together. A defensive and offensive force near the net, Malone dominated the paint with blocks, rebounds, and dunks, while Stockton rained down three-pointers from afar and generated fast-break points with his steals. Both had high clutch ratings as well, which means late-game shots will usually count. 

ATLANTA FALCONS – MADDEN 2004 (PS2/Xbox)

Michael Vick never realized his full potential in the real NFL, but he completely dominated an era of Madden thanks to an amazing skill-set that made him borderline unstoppable. His speed on the perimeter made him a constant threat in need of policing, and even if you shaded defenses his way players could still rip through them to the point that 200-yard rushing games were not uncommon. His uncanny arm strength allowed him to effortlessly float deep balls into the hands of fellow speed freak Peerless Price. Should he threaten to scramble and the defenses close down on him, worthy dump-off targets Warrick Dunn and Alge Crumpler were capable of eating up huge chunks of yardage underneath the coverage. Vick's Madden legacy was given another bag of cement in Madden 2012, where he paired with speedsters LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin to dismantle most online competition. How bad did it get? EA posted tips on how to try and stop the relentless onslaught.

Which video game sports teams did you feel had an unfair advantage? Share them in our comments section below.