Recently, I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to interview StK’s premier tournament lineup of Ogre 1, Ogre 2, Walshy and Saiyan over Xbox Live. Fresh off their stomping first place victory at MLG DC, the guys had a lot to say about competitive play, their tournament mindset, and the qualities that keep them on top despite Halo 2 being such a different game from it’s predecessor. Well, most of them had a lot to say anyway’ Saiyan, while present, seemed otherwise engaged and broke his evasive silence to mutter only four choice words. Next time, Ryan, I’m cornering you for a one-on-one…
MLG: It seemed, by talking to you in DC, that you’ve become much more serious about pro-gaming since last season. What brought about this change?
Walshy: I would say, it’s because we can actually practice together during the week, since we don’t have to get together and LAN.
Ogre 1: Yeah, Xbox Live helps out with that. ‘Cause we’re all busy with school and stuff, sports or whatever. We were serious, but we had other commitments too like school. But this year we had time to plan ahead, like me and Tom aren’t playing club soccer this year, because I don’t plan on playing in college, so there’s not really a point, and it would just take up extra time.
MLG: Halo 2 is a very different game than Halo 1, but your team won at DC in much the same fashion as it did at all those Halo 1 tourneys last season. What do you think it is that keeps you on top?
Walshy: I think we had a lot more teamwork in Halo 1 than you could really notice, because it was a more skill-based game and that teamwork kinda just carried over to Halo 2.
MLG: So you think that since accuracy is not as important in Halo 2 (because of increased auto-aim and lag compensation) that your teamwork is what carries you through?
Walshy: Yeah, it’s a lot more noticeable.
MLG: What team surprised you most at DC?
Ogre 2: Doug’s team.
Ogre 1: Yeah, Doug’s team definitely. I didn’t even expect them to get top four, really.
Walshy: They seemed to take it a lot more seriously at the tournament.
Ogre 2: Even Doug was owning, I was not expecting that.
MLG: Why’s that?
Ogre 2: If you played with Doug the first month that game came out, it seemed like he would never get good. Compared with how good he was at Halo 1, he was terrible at Halo 2. I guess he just, like, caught on and he’s actually getting really good now.
MLG: Were there any teams at DC that you thought were unusually disappointing after all the hype around them?
Walshy: I thought Str8 Rippin should have done a lot better than they did. They just seemed to make a few small mistakes.
Ogre 2: They still did pretty well, but…
Walshy: Yeah, I was expecting them to be, like, second place, but they ended up being fourth.
MLG: Who do you think is the most underrated player out there?
Ogre 2: Saiyan.
Ogre 1: Saiyan.
MLG: Why do you think that is?
Ogre 2: He gets no credit after all of this.
Walshy: Because people actually don’t put him on their top ten lists.
Ogre 2: If you go look on the MLG forums, and go to the top 10 players forum thread for after DC and stuff…
Ogre 1: You never see him on there. It’s like, unless you just forgot Saiyan, you’re pretty dumb.
MLG: That was a ridiculous thread – it went on for like 11 pages. You guys care to take a stab at your own top 10 list (excluding yourselves)?
Here’s what they collectively came up with, in no particular order:
3. Killer N
4. AYB Fonzi
9. Lil Poison
(The guys couldn’t agree on a 10th player, so the list was left at nine)
MLG: Does it bother you that at tournaments, everyone can watch your screens and steal your strategies and tricks?
Ogre 1: It doesn’t bother me. They really can’t apply it. They can’t just watch our teamwork and then just apply it instantly in games.
Ogre 2: Like tricks and stuff, people are going to find out all the tricks eventually.
Walshy: They might see little jumps that we do or small things like that’
Ogre 1: But it’s all about making decisions in games, and everyone thinks differently, so they’re not gonna be like, “Oh, how would the Ogres think right now… What should I do?” They’re not gonna know what to do just from watching.
MLG: Do you guys spend a lot of time watching your opponents screens at the tournaments to see what their ideas are for the objective games, or where they camp in team slayer?
Ogre 2: Ryan, you wanna take that one?
Saiyan: I’m eating cereal, sorry.
Ogre 1: I’d say we spend a fair amount of time watching other people. We don’t do it all the time, but we’ll go see what another team is doing on a certain gametype every now and then.
Ogre 2: I think we mostly just like to watch and see how the other teams are doing – who’s winning a series.
Walshy: Yeah, like to see how other teams play against each other, and to watch for who we have to play next. We don’t study them that much, because a lot of it we see online ahead of time anyway.
MLG: Do you guys plan on keeping your same lineup of guys for the rest of the season?
Ogre 2: That’s the game plan.
Walshy: Yeah, unless Saiyan decides to bail out.
MLG: Why would he do that? For love of cereal?
Ogre 2: For love of World of Warcraft (laughs).
Walshy: Basically, Ryan plays half as much as me, but he’s still as good, which is embarrassing for me (laughs).
MLG: If you could put together anyone you want, what four-man combo do you think would be the closest match for you right now?
Walshy: It’s hard to say… In Halo 1 you could throw together four top players that had a lot of skill, and it’d be a very hard team to beat, but in this there’s so much teamwork… it’s just going to be so hard for people to catch up, because it takes months of practice.
Ogre 1: That’s what I’d say. I’d say you could throw four of the top players on a team, but they’re not gonna have any strategy if they don’t practice at all, so…
MLG: Do you think that it’s a big advantage for you that you’ve stayed with primarily the same lineup for a long time now, and your competition keeps switching up their teams over and over?
Ogre 1: Yeah, it definitely helps.
Walshy: Well, we didn’t actually stay together forever. Throughout Halo 1 we all just kinda eventually paired up. It’s kinda like we just took the top of the skill group from Halo 1 and we had some good teamwork that carried over (to Halo 2).
MLG: When you guys are practicing online, how often would you say you lose a match?
Ogre 1: Well, it depends on who we’re playing obviously. Probably like one in three.
Walshy: It can depend. A lot of times online we focus on trying out new strategies to see how they work, so if we were only playing to win each game, we’d probably lose a lot less, but we want to try new stuff.
Ogre 2: Not very often.
MLG: Do any of you still play matchmaking?
Walshy: It depends on who I’m playing with.
Ogre 2: If I’m bored at like seven in the morning and Puckett’s on my team, because he rapes at seven in the morning. His SMG’s so sick.
MLG: Okay, on average, how many friend requests do you guys turn down in a week?
Ogre 2: This is including clan invites though, because my friends list is full, so they send me clan invites with a message attached telling me to add them to my friends list.
Walshy: It’s like “I know you’re not gonna join my clan, but can you clear a spot on your friends list?”
Ogre 1: I get like 25 a day. So probably about 150 a week. I block them now too, so they can’t send any more. Eventually I’ll probably block all of Xbox Live, but the number of friend requests a day isn’t declining yet, so that’s not good (laughs).
MLG: What do you think is the most common misconception about your team?
Ogre 2: That we play all-day-every-day, probably.
Walshy: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Ogre 1: People say, “They’re only good because they play all the time.” But I’ll go look at their Xbox Live account, and they only have a total of five pages of games less than me. So okay, you’re playing like five or ten minutes less than me a day.
Walshy: Also, if you go look at like Check 6 for example, two or three of them I think aren’t in school, and all of us are in school, and we have sports and stuff too.
MLG: Okay, is it true that you guys posted on your IRC that winning DC was the “easiest thing you’ve ever done in your lives?”
Ogre 2: That’s just a joke, man. All of our topics on there are really sarcastic, we’re just goofing around.
Walshy: We just like to have fun with people.
Ogre 2: It is true that we posted that, but’
Ogre 1: We’ve got another one that says “Team StK loves kittens and saves babies from burning buildings. We’re not such bad guys.”
MLG: Do you think that Halo 2 is still in its infancy of trick discovery and glitches, or do you think it’s already been mined for pretty much everything it’s worth?
Ogre 1: There’s always going to be new stuff.
Walshy: Yeah, but compared to Halo 1… All the stuff in Halo 1 probably would have been figured out a lot sooner if there had been an Xbox Live community, because with so many more people figuring it out together, it just goes so fast.
MLG: So you think that since there aren’t so many isolated communities figuring things out like Halo 1…
Ogre 1: I also think, in Halo 1 toward the end I kept thinking, “Oh, there’s no new tricks that I’ll ever learn,” but things still come up, so I think Halo 2 will be the same way.
MLG: Since the MLG battle rifle start encourages marksmanship combat and discourages dual-wielding (because you start out so far from getting a dual-wield), do you think Halo 2 plays more like Halo 1 now as result?
Ogre 1: Definitely, but…
Walshy: In a way, dual-wielding is more like a strategy now. If you want to get both weapons, then you have to get into an actual position to use it.
Ogre 1: Yeah, dual-wielding is so powerful up close – I really don’t think to do it as much as I probably should, but I think eventually I’ll learn.
MLG: But you’re already so close on the spawn to the battle rifle/plasma pistol combo, which pretty much destroys everything…
Walshy: I mean, it’s powerful, but it’s not as powerful as people make it out to be.
Ogre 1: Yeah, like when I first started playing Halo 2, IoS had already had the game for about two weeks, and I’d play with ‘em on Beaver Creek and I’d get hit with green guns everywhere and I didn’t know what the hell was going on.. But now that you know where people go and what people do, it’s easy to dodge the green gun or counter it.
Ogre 2: You can just duck behind something.
Ogre 1: Yeah, ’cause then it takes them a second to switch to their battle rifle and you’ll be a shot ahead if you can dodge it.
MLG: What kinds of different skills do you think Halo 2 emphasizes more than Halo 1, besides just team strategy?
Walshy: It seems to emphasize a lot more positioning. Like in Halo 1 you could get yourself out of a bad position by pulling off a clutch three-shot, but in this if you get a couple shots on you first, there’s a very slim chance you’ll get out of it unless you have a teammate there to help double team.
Ogre 2: You’re probably not going to go and out-battle rifle even two guys in a row, but you definitely aren’t going to out-battle rifle three or four guys – it’s just not gonna happen.
Ogre 1: In Halo 1, you could maybe bust out like two or three three-shots in a row and all of a sudden you have full map control. But in this you have to have positioning to be able to take out the other guys.
Ogre 2: I think awareness is a lot more important. The respawns, for one, are random so you can’t predict that. Also, with one person per screen you have to be a lot more aware.
Walshy: And there has to be a lot more communication, rather than in Halo 1 where you could just screen watch, in this one you have to be able to yell stuff out fast where people are and explain where different spots are.
Ogre 1: I go along with the awareness thing, because you pretty much have to see them first, because everyone can four-shot with the battle rifle, so you want to be the sneaky one that always knows where they are and comes up on them first.
MLG: What kind of advice would you give to the average players out there that are trying to get better?
Walshy: I would say, definitely start playing MLG settings, and don’t base skill or whatever on matchmaking, because there’s just too much cheating that goes on there and the settings are too random to give accurate results.
Ogre 2: It really doesn’t…
MLG: How often are you recognized outside of Halo events, like just walking down the street? Do people know who you guys are?
Ogre 2: In school, for me and Dan. Not everyone, but a lot of people know about us. They kid us about it all the time and stuff, but…
Walshy: Yeah, definitely I get recognized from old friends and schoolmates, but I don’t think I ever go to the mall and just a random person comes up to me and says, “Hey, you’re so-and-so.” I’d say at the events we all get recognized, but it’s not to the level where just walking down the street we get mobbed or anything (laughs).
MLG: Ok, let’s have a prediction on the StK tournament win percentage throughout the MLG 2005 season.
Ogre 1: Like 1000 %.
Ogre 2: 2000 %.
Walshy: Probably about 1000 %.
Ogre 1: MLG tournaments, it’s hard to say.
Ogre 2: Probably the majority of them. I mean, I don’t want to sound cocky, but I plan on winning.
Ogre 1: Yeah, I really don’t want to lose any.
Walshy: Yeah, I’m definitely not going to any tournament expecting to lose.
MLG: Anything you guys wanna add or clear up for the public?
(By way of a rather long story, the guys explained the whys and hows concerning the decline and eventual abandonment of the StK clan on the Bungie.net Clan Leaderboards. A lot of people have since wondered why the clan stopped, as it dominated the Leaderboards early after Halo 2′s release. Here’s the story, by their account: Walshy mistakenly gave Overlord status to Zum who got “power hungry” and invited one of his friends in, who in turn invited one of his friends, Jesus3723 (the guys requested that he be explicitly named), and gave him Overlord status. He refused to leave the clan, added a bunch of his friends and subsequently caused the abandonment of StK (the XBL clan tag, not the actual clan.)
Also, Ogre 1 and 2 would like it to be known once and for all that Ogre 3 is indeed an actual Ogre, and that he’s in fact their older brother, not their younger. Apparently the misconceptions annoy them a great deal.
Ogre 1: Oh yeah, and Tom uses five sensitivity and I’ve been using four lately but normally I use five.
Walshy: Yeah, just get that out of the way right now (laughs).
Ogre 1: Just say we all use five.
MLG: Well, that will shut up hundreds and hundreds of noobs. We all appreciate that. Alright, guys, that’s all I’ve got. Thanks for all your time.