Madden Bowl 20 champion Raidel "Joke" Brito has signed with XSET, the new esports organization co-founded in July by former FaZe president Greg Selkoe, the organization announced on Thursday.
"Basically [XSET's] vision is to make video games cool," Joke told ESPN. I feel like video games are frowned upon. My mom was always like, 'why do you play so many video games? You need to go to school.' Even now, my little cousin who is 13 years old is really into Fortnite and my aunt isn't really into video games and even though I've had a ton of success in video games, she doesn't let him play it because she wants him to get a real career.
"I feel like [XSET] is trying to give people who want to be video gamers an option to do that by making it look cool. I think that's something that's kind of frowned upon between people in general, especially the old generation, where people just don't want their kids to play video games. That's the big reason why I like the vision that they have."
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Considered one of the greatest competitors in Madden history, Joke has appeared in 11 Electronic Arts major tournaments, earned more than $200,000 in prize earnings and appeared in multiple Madden Bowl final fours.
He also co-founded Elite Madden, a strategy website geared towards helping aspiring competitors up their game in the football simulation title. Being able to continue promoting Elite Madden -- sporting their gear at events and posting about it actively on social media -- was what drew him to sign with XSET. Joke said many other esports organizations that were interested in signing him wanted to restrict him from promoting his own brand and focus solely on theirs. With XSET, he'll be able to do both.
XSET is the first major esports organization to enter the Madden space since a shooting that occurred at a tournament in August 2018. At that event, after being eliminated one of the competitors re-entered Chicago Pizza, which housed the GLHF Game Bar, with two handguns and opened fire on fellow entrants. 10 attendees were injured and two participants, Taylor "SpotMePlzzz" Robertson and Elijah "TrueBoy" Clayton, were killed by the gunman. Since their deaths, Joke and many other prestigious Madden players have held tributes for SpotMePlzzz and TrueBoy.
But the shooting, Joke said, has had a large effect on the business of competitive Madden.
"There was actually a decrease [of interest] in Madden, obviously after Jacksonville," Joke said. "A lot of teams were hesitant to get into Madden because of the shooting. I think [me signing with XSET] is going to be really big for Madden because since the shooting, this is the first team that's getting into Madden. There were already teams in Madden -- Complexity was already in it when the shooting happened. This is the first esports team going into Madden after the shooting. I think it's a big thing for the Madden community."
XSET was announced in early July, with the founding team featuring Selkoe, Framerate founder Marco Mereu and two other former FaZe staffers. In an interview with the New York Times, Selkoe said he felt that FaZe could be better about its diversity, particularly in the wake of uptick in discussion around the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd and the LGBTQ+ community.
"We have a responsibility to do something that pushes change," Selkoe told the Times. "We intend to have a very clear social mission of inclusion. We want to stand up for kids who have been bullied or feel like there's not a gaming organization for them. We want our organization to look like the youth of America."
Like FaZe, XSET will focus heavily on merging pop culture -- such as music, streetwear and sports -- with gaming and esports.