Esports player wins top 'Madden NFL' tournament without throwing a pass

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An esports player by the name of Raidel “Joke” Brito won his first career “Madden Bowl” on Saturday, taking home $65,000 with three straight wins in the most prestigious event of EA Sports’ Madden 20 Championship Series.

And he did it all without throwing a pass.

With a strategy that is unthinkable in today’s pass-happy NFL, Brito beat the top players in the world with 30-year-old Washington Redskins punter Tress Way featured at quarterback. Every play was a run, and yet no one could stop him.

Brito’s run-only offense with the Tennessee Titans instead ran through Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers. You can see his semifinals and finals win on YouTube.

However, the question remains: Why? Well, turns out there is a very interesting answer to that.

Why on earth did this ‘Madden NFL’ player refuse to pass?

Playing Madden while refusing to throw a pass sounds like something a player would do as a lark or to handicap themselves against a lesser player, but in this case, it really was a smart thing to do.

Per ESPN, Brito took advantage of the game’s unusually rewarding mechanics for run plays — you can see many of Reddit’s Madden players complaining about Madden 20’s run-heavy mechanics here — and used it to boost his roster.

The Madden Bowl uses a salary cap system with current and former players available, and like the real game, good quarterbacks come at a premium. Instead of spending that money on Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson, Brito dropped minimal money on Way and used the savings to boost his run-game and defense.

So in addition to Sayers on offense, Brito’s defense featured players with special abilities like Kansas City Chiefs pass-rusher Frank Clark and ex-NFL safety Taylor Mays on defense. His offensive line was boosted with abilities as well at center and tackle.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, left, hands off to running back Derrick Henry in the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the New England Patriots, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
It wasn't Derrick Henry running for Brito's Titans team, but the result was pretty similar. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Take that singularly focused roster, give it the run-heavy Las Vegas Raiders’ offensive playbook (Jon Gruden is smiling somewhere) and the Miami Dolphins’ defensive playbook (apparently it’s a very good defense in “Madden 20”), and you have what turned out to be a monster.

Before you try this at home, keep in mind that Brito is a well-respected player and you will still need skill and knowledge to pull this off. From ESPN:

“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.”

Since Jackson is apparently the cover athlete for “Madden 21,” perhaps Brito’s strategy could be viable with a real quarterback next year.

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