-- LOS ANGELES -- New Jersey native Frank "Stiff" Sardoni Jr. was crowned the Madden 2016 Championship winner Tuesday afternoon after consecutive victories in the semifinals and finals at Novo Theatre during EA's E3 event in Los Angeles, California.
Stiff's fast-paced and high-risk style paid off, and he dismantled defensive wizard and current Madden Challenge champion Zack "Serious Moe" Lane in the quarterfinals and two-time Madden Challenge champion Eric "Problem" Wright in the final.
A diehard Chicago Bears fan, Sardoni Jr. used his beloved team, albeit with a makeshift fantasy lineup, to dethrone Wright's San Francisco 49ers 37-21 and take home the championship belt created by EA Sports.
"[Football] is passion," Sardoni Jr. told ESPN following his victory on Tuesday, grinning from ear to ear with his newly won title belt draped across his shoulder. "Teamwork, synergy, all those words out there. I just can't believe I'm here right now."
In a competitive game that is filled with highly experienced players, the man known as "Stiff" hasn't been around too long. While others have been cutting their teeth at Madden competitively for up to a decade, Sardoni Jr. has been at it for only the past three years. He was an underdog since making it to the quarterfinals, but his ability to use the high-powered Bears offense proved to be the difference.
In the final, Wright tried to mount a comeback after Sardoni Jr. began the contest with a quick explosion of points, but Sardoni Jr. held tough in the fourth quarter to secure the championship.
"My family supports me," Sardoni Jr. said when asked about the support he gets at home. "My soon-to-be fiancee supports me 1,000 percent. That's why I'm out here. She told me to come down here and have fun, and that's what I did. My parents couldn't be more proud."
The Madden NFL 17 Championship Series was announced by EA Sports days before this year's final, and the company is looking to make the traditional sport title one of the bigger esports in the coming year, with a $1 million prize pool given out over the course of the campaign. Sardoni Jr. is already looking toward the bigger prize of next year and said he has his eyes locked on repeating as champion.
"I'm going to be playing Madden NFL 17," he said. "Getting my game up just like I did this year and hopefully become victorious."