Breaking down the 2023 ELF schedule with early season showdowns and rivalries

Last week, the European League of Football released its schedule for the upcoming 2023 season. 

With 17 teams divided into three conferences, the league worked hard to organize a schedule that made sense for all teams. 

Let’s take a closer look at this schedule and identify key matchups and trends.

Opening Week Action and Franchise Debuts

The season kicks off in early June, as there are four matchups taking place on Saturday, June 3rd, and 3 more on Sunday, June 4th.  Notably, week 1 will see the debuts of five expansion franchises.  On Saturday, the Paris team travels to Cologne to take on the Centurions, while the Helvetic Guards of Switzerland take on the Dragons in Barcelona, and the Fehervar Enthroners of Hungary host the Berlin Thunder.  The next day, the Munich Ravens play host to the Tirol Raiders and the Prague Lions are at home to the Leipzig Kings.  Another expansion team, the Milano Seamen, are idle during the opening week, so they will make their league debut in week 2 against the Dragons.  The Ravens-Raiders game, as well as a game between the Rhein Fire and the Frankfurt Galaxy, will be available to watch for free via ProSiebenMAXX.

Early Season Showdowns

There are a number of exciting matchups in the first few weeks of the regular season.  The Fire-Galaxy matchup in week 1 should be a good one, as their matchup late in the year last season was perhaps the best game of the year.  Other interesting battles will include the Fire taking on the Hamburg Sea Devils in week 2, the Dragons meeting up with the Raiders in week 3, and the defending champions in the Vienna Vikings hosting the Leipzig Kings in week 4.

Rivalries Renewed

The ELF schedule format has each team play their conference opponents twice a season, once at home and once away.  Each team will also play an additional home-and-away series against a nonconference opponent.  This format allows for teams to get to know each other well and perhaps allows for rivalries to be created and strengthened.  Perhaps the most interesting rivalry in the league is the one between the Vienna Vikings and the Tirol Raiders.  Both of these Austrian teams came over to the ELF from the Austrian Football League before the 2022 season, and both were immediately successful, with each team making the playoffs.  Though they are in separate conferences, they will play each other twice this season, as they face off in Innsbruck in week 6 and in Vienna in week 12.

Exciting Regular Season Finale

Almost every team will be in action in week 14, the last week of the regular season, on September 2nd and 3rd.  The Leipzig Kings will be idle that week, so that could make for some intriguing playoff scenarios.  Week 14 is filled with interesting games that could decide playoff positioning.  Notable games include the Hamburg Sea Devils taking on the Berlin Thunder, the Rhein Fire traveling to Frankfurt to take on the Galaxy, and the Raiders Tirol facing off with the Milano Seamen in Italy.

A current student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carter played football in high school and has been a lifelong avid football fan.