In competitive Madden, Raidel "Joke" Brito is widely considered one of the greatest competitors on the sticks, with over $200,000 in career earnings, 11 EA major appearances and multiple Madden Bowl final fours, but he had never quite been able to get to the top of the mountain.
That changed Saturday night at the 2020 Madden Bowl.
The 26-year-old from West New York, New Jersey, was able to use his run-only offense and particularly stingy defense en route to a 17-0 shutout of Daniel "Dcroft" Mycroft of Mukilteo, Washington, to win on Madden's biggest stage.
Joke did not throw a single pass in the entire tournament, taking advantage of the run-focused meta of the game and his skill to create a championship-winning formula. In the tournament, players crafted their rosters in a salary-cap system, with current and former NFL players available. Joke used this to his advantage, opting not to field a true quarterback in his lineup; Washington Redskins punter Tress Way was under center.
This freed up funds for Joke to go after strong offensive and defensive players with special abilities, such as Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark, a power specialist, and former NFL safety Taylor Mays, a secure tackler. Joke chose the run-dominant Raiders offensive playbook and the widely popular Miami Dolphins defensive playbook to put it all together.
The strategy worked. Joke capped off what was perhaps the greatest season ever for a Madden pro with a championship.
"We had three major events during the season that led to this tournament," said Tyler "TDAVIS" Davis, a Madden competitor and commentator. "Joke finished fifth, third and third in those tournaments en route to winning the final tournament of the year. He was the best player by far in Madden 20. Going into this, he was arguably in the top 10 of all-time greats, and now he has to be considered in the top five ever."
Joke broke into tears after the win. But he explained on ESPN2 that even though the title was a long time coming for him, he wasn't emotional because of the victory; he had dedicated this tournament, win or lose, to his good friend Taylor "SpotMe" Robertson, who was killed in 2018 in the mass shooting at a Madden tournament in Jacksonville, Florida.
"It's pretty cool that Joke won," Davis said. "Almost like it was destiny."
Joke won $65,000 for his efforts. But he and past champions consider the true prize to be the Madden championship belt, which is made of 24-karat gold plate with over 700 Swarovski rhinestones, weighing 12 pounds.
Normally the champion would have the opportunity at the end of the broadcast to hoist the belt overhead in celebration. But since the tournament was played entirely online, a surprise was put in place: The scene cut to Derwin James, a safety for the Los Angeles Chargers and also a devoted Madden player, who showed off the blinged-out belt and announced he would be mailing it to Joke -- before hoisting it in the air on his behalf.