Gears of War as a title has been around for a long time, but recently it seems like we’re seeing larger prize pools and more attention. What do you attribute that to?
I think The Coalition is doing a great job of promoting Gears of War, promoting the players, and creating content and the stream numbers are going up every single time we get to a tournament. I just think all of this contributes to supporting everyone in the scene. Organizations like EnVyUs and Optic also really support their players, so it’s really nice to be a part of this new era of Gears of War.
You have been around since the original Gears of War as well as being one of the only players to compete in every single version of Gears. How has the esport evolved since the beginning?
Since the beginning, the Gears meta has changed so much. I’m not even speaking about the game types, but the way people play individually. I think when we started with the first Gears of War in 2007, it was more about “win your gunfights.” I feel like over time the competitive side has evolved into the team with the most teamwork as well as skill is going to win. So it isn’t just about being the most mechanically skilled team, but the team that understands what they’re doing, how to play for each other, and how to play like champions. A lot of players now, they don’t really understand that, but I would say that’s the biggest difference: teamwork has overtaken skill.
Your team has been together since Columbus. Do you believe that solidifying a roster and having that core group of guys that continues to play together is important to success as a result of that?
As far as changing rosters, we haven’t changed since Columbus and the team chemistry part of it is just a huge asset to a team. Being comfortable with your in-game spots and being comfortable with your teammates in and out of the game take you a long way. If you have a bad event, you talk about it and you might switch positions with them, but overall you definitely want to keep the same roster.
What do you think your team does differently from everyone else? What sets you apart?
I think what sets us apart is the preparation we put into our matches. We’re looked at as the Spurs of Gears of War. I’m the captain of the team and I do a lot of homework as far as watching my footage, my teammates footage, as well as the enemy’s footage. I do a lot outside of the game which helps us inside of the game and I think that’s what really sets us apart because catching onto our own and our opponents’ tendencies is the biggest thing in Gears of War at the top level. I feel like I do that more than anyone in the game.
Sometimes in other games you’ll see teams hire an analyst to do that sort of work. Are you considered the team analyst or is there someone that helps you go through all of this footage?
Well, RyanFoolz is our coach, so anything as far as map percentages, what maps we’ve won, what weapons have been placed down -- he keeps a tally of that. He has a spreadsheet and every time that we do map picks, Ryan is always next to me and I’ll ask him, “Hey, what was the last map we played against them, what was the round count, did we play them well or were we sloppy, what do we need to look out for” and he always has that on hand.
That must be a lot of work to put into an event, so how do you like the frequency of tournaments in 2017 compared to 2016 and previous years?
I think we’ve been playing about one tournament every month, which I think is the right pace. Back in the day you’d play once every two, two and a half months and I feel like those were a little too far out. I think that having a break in the season, kinda like a split kinda works as well because we can make a roster change if things aren’t working out among other things. I definitely feel like all of the events that we’ve had and the timing of them has been great.
Speaking of tournaments, nV vs Optic is the ‘el classico’ of Gears for some time now. What makes this rivalry so special?
Well, our rivalry dates back for three or four years now and those players are all very skilled. One of our players used to be on their team and one of our guys went to Optic, so that contributes to the rivalry and the organizations themselves is a whole other story. Just being in the finals with these guys and playing for that trophy every single time speaks for itself.
This is the last tournament of the circuit. Do you think you’ll be raising the trophy at the end?
Absolutely. Going into this event we went to a bootcamp in Charlotte. This wasn’t our first boot camp but I think we took it more seriously than the others. We watched a lot of footage together, which we had done in the past but we would never really criticize each other. I think this time we were able to do that and learn from it so we’re prepared to take this event.
Did you set out to prove anything this year and did you meet expectations?
To be honest, we’re disappointed with our placings this year. I mean, we have placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, but we’ve gotten second place way too many times. We won Mexico City, which was my favorite event because apart from winning, the crowd was one of the best, but placing second so much is disappointing. I wish we could have won more trophies.
We’re just about done here, so what would you say to someone who is trying to get into Gears of War as a spectator?
As far as spectating, in my opinion there is nothing like a Gears of War event because there is no other comparison to the hype around it. Maybe the fighting scene is somewhat similar but there is no shooter like Gears of War. You will have a different experience coming to watch these matches.
Even Call of Duty?
In Call of Duty you see a little of it. I feel like you might hear someone scream from across the venue at Call of Duty, but at Gears of War you’ll hear players going at it at every single station.
Any last words to the people tuning in this weekend to watch you guys?
All of our fans are amazing. All of the #EoD and #BoysInBlue fans, we absolutely love you guys. Thank you for supporting us!