Following their first appearance in an MLG Championship match, second place Nashville squad Team US Eh sat down with me to talk a bit about their tournament experience. Despite being proud of their performance, the team felt a bit that they were hurt by the fact that their team came to fruition during the 11th hour. Nonetheless, they feel that their experience at MLG Nashville has given them some solid footing and a bright outlook for the future of their team. Check out the interview below with G-Spot, Sad Panda Eh, Blackjak and Mr. Ownage of Team US Eh.
Ed Note: Traditionally, we post the interview with the champions of an MLG event before the runners-up, but due to scheduling conflicts with IGS Monglers, publishing the Second Place Interview first was the only way it could work out. It is merely a matter of circumstance. Enjoy the interview.
MLG: I’d like to start out by getting a little history lesson on how you put this team together…
Sad Panda: Well, me, Blackjak and G-Spot have been playing for a while. We were in the online league with Walka. Ownage, we kind of picked up at the last second. I’ve known Ownage for a while–almost since the beginning of Halo 2. We were in the clan “Abusive Reality” together. (laughs) We had a bunch of fun clan matches and s***.
MLG: So you guys have a lot of experience playing together, but not necessarily as a tournament team…
Blackjak: Yeah, me, Panda and G-Spot have all played together, but we just picked up Ownage about a week before MLG.
MLG: After things turned out so well for you at this tournament, are you guys thinking about keeping this lineup together to see how far it takes you?
G-Spot: Well, Ownage knows that we picked him after we tried to get another player. The other player we were trying to pick up was Pacmayne. It seems like he is going to be able to come to some other tournaments, so that is going to be our new lineup.
MLG: Blackjak and Panda, it seemed like you guys had sort of disappeared from the MLG scene after a couple of early-season appearances with Str8 Rippin. What was it like returning after that absence?
Blackjak: It was nice.
Sad Panda: I think people probably underestimated us because we had been away for so long, but we still have all the same stuff we had before…
Blackjak: I quit Halo 2 for four months after Str8 Rippin fell apart, and two or three weeks before Nashville Panda was like, “You wanna go?” I was like, “sure,” so I started playing again and that’s when we started practicing.
MLG: What made you quit when the clan fell apart?
Blackjak: Just other stuff… Life. (laughs)
(everyone laughs/scoffs at the idea sarcastically)
MLG: Who wants to have a life? I mean, seriously… So you guys feel like nothing has changed for you personally since the beginning of the season, but what do you feel has changed outside of that? What’s different about how the game is played, or the competition at the tournaments?
G-Spot: I think for Panda and Blackjak it’s changed a lot because it’s been so long…
Blackjak: Yeah, it’s really changed. Since I was out for four months, I didn’t really know any of the new maps like Elongation. My first few times ever playing Elongation were at Nashville. All of those maps–I wasn’t really used to them.
G-Spot: I actually didn’t get the new maps until we picked up Ownage, so like a week before Nashville… And this is including from Philadelphia–I had never played Elongation or Backwash. And we lost. (laughs)
MLG: Did you guys put extra focus on those maps once you got your lineup ironed out?
Blackjak: We tried. There’s not much you can do. We tried to play them as much as possible–fit them in here or there, but…
G-Spot: I don’t know. There’s no strategy. We need to strategize more, come up with a plan and then execute it in the tournament.
Sad Panda: They aren’t really played much either though, so we didn’t focus as much on them…
Mr. Ownage: It was hard, because they had all played a lot together and I just kind of joined last minute, so I didn’t know exactly how they played. I had to try to adjust real fast.
MLG: When you guys were preparing for the tournament, did you predict that you’d be appearing in the finals?
Sad Panda: Yeah, definitely.
Blackjak: Yeah, definitely.
MLG: Panda, I noticed during the matches that you are the one giving the most direction to the other players on what the team needs to be focusing on and trying to accomplish. Are you sort of the strategic leader for the team?
Blackjak: Panda is a strategic beast.
G-Spot: No, we don’t have those $200 3D headphones here.
Sad Panda: We got some $40 Radio Shacks!
Sad Panda: I guess so. Somebody’s gotta do it, right? If nobody else is doing it, somebody’s gotta tell everyone what to do.
Blackjak: I like the word “teamwork” and Panda likes the word “strategy.”
Mr. Ownage: Panda likes the word “screaming.”
Sad Panda: I’ve gotta scream! Everyone’s got those headphones on!
Blackjak: Yeah, I know. Everyone’s like, “Wow, Blackjak, you’re loud as f***!”
MLG: Are your headphones open-ended so you guys can hear each other better?
G-Spot: No, we don’t have those $200 3D headphones here.
Sad Panda: We got some $40 Radio Shacks!
G-Spot: Yeah, we got ‘em at Radio Shack in Nashville.
MLG: Is the reason you wear those so you can hear the gunfire from your own TV and know whether it’s relevant to you?
Mr. Ownage: Well, for that, and because you can really hear when something’s behind you and really tell where everything is on the map.
Blackjak: With headphones, you can tell if someone’s in front of you shooting. You can really hear the surrounding area.
G-Spot: It doesn’t help if you’re playing split-screen though, because then you can just hear everything, so it gets confusing.
Blackjak: The crowd really bothered me at MLG Houston. I couldn’t hear the TV at all.
G-Spot: That’s another advantage. When there’s a lot of crowd and people are talking in the background, it really drowns them out.
MLG: How would you guys describe your team’s playing style? What do you put the most focus on? Strengths? Gametypes?
Mr. Ownage: Basically, G-Spot runs around and kills everyone and we kind of just pick up the stuff.
G-Spot: Well, I think our strongest gametypes would have to be Team Slayer, seeing as how we didn’t lose very many of those. Am I wrong?
Mr. Ownage: Well, we lost a snipers match to rSports in Pool Play.
G-Spot: That doesn’t count!
MLG: You beat IGS Monglers in Sanctuary snipes though…
Blackjak: Well, that was easy.
G-Spot: I had to go like 19 – 7 or something like that.
Blackjak: Spot was a beast. He was a prodigy in that game, and then the next game he was just like (makes spitting sound).
G-Spot: I don’t even snipe. I don’t know what happened. I think they just ran into my shots. It was good for me I guess…
MLG: I don’t even understand how you can snipe with your sensitivity so high…
Blackjak: I know, how do you use 10?
G-Spot: Shut up! I actually don’t like that question, because I’ve been using it for God knows how long, so I’m used to it. Ownage caught me on it. He said it’s 10 sensitivity when I look around, but it automatically changes to 1 when I’m using the BR.
Mr. Ownage: Yeah, he has controller hacks.
MLG: IGS Monglers was a weird mixture of a team. You had people from IGS, TmG and Monglers Legendz all thrown together…
Mr. Ownage: Well, so are we. I’m more of a Top 8 kind of person, and they’re more of a Top 4 team, so they basically just picked me up because I’m good looking.
Blackjak: Oh Jesus, no comment.
MLG: Well, based on IGS Monglers’ lineup, did you know what to expect from them?
G-Spot: If anything I figured they’d be more experienced. That’s pretty much it.
Blackjak: I mean, a lot of those games were close. I mean, all of them are really good, but I just thought they’d be a little more organized.
Mr. Ownage: It didn’t seem like they had teamed before, which of course they hadn’t, but I dunno.
G-Spot: Well some of them have. I mean, you have Gandhi, Defy and Vash, who were all VGA kids.
Mr. Ownage: I don’t know. I think we were expecting exactly what we got. We thought we’d be in the finals and there would be close games.
MLG: I want to talk a little bit about the ridiculously close games you two teams had, in the Winners’ Finals especially. Like with Lockout KOTH, you guys were down by a lot and made a huge comeback only to lose by four seconds at the very end. What happened in the final seconds of that game that made it all fall apart for you?
Blackjak: I think Ownage was scratching his nose or something. (everyone laughs) I think he was watching my screen. I don’t know. It was just a close game–that’s about it. What I saw on everyone else’s screen is that we kept spawning low Blue and low Snipe Tower, and they kept getting Top BR spawns and Library spawns. I was just like, “wow.”
Mr. Ownage: It all depended on where that last hill would spawn, and it just happened to spawn at Top Middle.
MLG: You guys had another insanely close game with Neutral Bomb Midship later.
Mr. Ownage: Wow, Vash has spawn hacks.
MLG: There were 15 seconds left and he tied the game… After the tiebreaker game and you were knocked to the Losers’ Bracket, were you guys discouraged by just how narrow some of those margins were and how they didn’t go in your favor? The series could have easily gone the other way…
Blackjak: Yeah, it really gets you down.
G-Spot: Yeah, you can’t be happy when it could have easily been 3 – 0 for us.
MLG: So after pushing through H2K in the Losers’ Finals and meeting back up with IGS Monglers in the finals, were you guys nervous at all knowing that you were already down two games?
Blackjak: I wasn’t nervous at all. The only thing I was worried about was that CTF Beaver Creek, and then it came down to 2 – 3. That was the only time we ever scored close on CTF Creek the whole tournament.
Mr. Ownage: We were pretty sure there was no chance we could win CTF Beaver Creek. We hadn’t won it throughout the whole tournament…
Sad Panda: I didn’t think it was like that. We just didn’t have strategy. We just didn’t do it.
G-Spot: Well, we did it sort of at the beginning. We jumped off each other’s heads to get the plasma pistol. That worked for a good second.
MLG: Why do you think that’s such a bad gametype for you guys?
Blackjak: They just had a good strategy down. They had Defy watching the portal the whole game. They just knew what they were doing exactly, and they kept sticking to it.
Mr. Ownage: That’s a level where you really need to know positions, and since we were a last-minute team we really had no positions worked out yet.
G-Spot: The only thing we tried to do was get OS, and that never worked. Besides that we had no positioning at all.
MLG: When the tournament was over did you guys feel pretty satisfied with how things turned out?
(general mumbling that amounted to “No”)
Sad Panda: I thought we could’ve won it. Easily.
MLG: What do you wish you would have done differently that could have made it turn out differently for you?
G-Spot: Well, practice is the number one thing.
Blackjak: We didn’t have enough time. That’s the main problem for everything.
Mr. Ownage: We tried to cram in as much practice as we could, but we just didn’t have enough time before the tournament.
MLG: Between the Winners’ and Championship Finals, did you guys have a discussion about what you were doing right and wrong to help you turn the tables for the next match-up?
Blackjak: Yeah, just about everyone’s positioning, and how we weren’t sticking to the plans.
G-Spot: Yeah, there were a few times when we actually had a good plan going in, but when the game started nobody stuck to it. We all just started running around. We noticed that it happened a lot, and we talked about how we need to stop doing that. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but experience is key.
MLG: So you guys are going to have this new lineup now, where it’s going to be G-Spot, Panda, Blackjak and Pacmayne. Are you going to take that lineup to the conference championships?
G-Spot: I would like to. We are all really good players. Pacmayne is a phenomenal player. He doesn’t go to MLG’s as much as he would like to, but I know that he would be a very good fit for us. I’ve known that in the past, but due to financial problems we’ve never been able to all go together at the same time.
Mr. Ownage: I know these guys are going to stick together, but I don’t know if I’ll be going to any more MLGs. If I do it will be for fun, just casual. These guys will be a Top 4 contending team if they stick together.
G-Spot: I don’t know–we just lost the best looking guy on our team…
MLG: So how do you guys think your new lineup will fare against some of the other established teams once all of the major teams start showing up at the same time for the conference championships and whatnot?
Blackjak: I think we’ve got a shot at first.
Blackjak: Well, I think we need a lot of practice. I wouldn’t go as far as first place on the first time we give a good showing, but I think we could make it definitely Top 4 or Top 2. Practice makes perfect.
G-Spot: I agree. With some practice with the new lineup, a Top 3 finish would be very doable.
MLG: Any parting thoughts guys?
G-Spot: It’s great going to these things, because it’s different from Canada. Knowing that me and Panda are Canadian, just going anywhere in the United States is fun. The culture is different, the way people talk is different–of course we talk differently too. But I mean, you go to Tennessee, and the only time I ever hear people talk like that is in the movies.
Blackjak: In the movies! (mockingly)
G-Spot: It might not be a big deal to the people that live there, but to us, it’s kind of weird, funny and cool at the same time to see people talk or act the way they do.
MLG: Oh yeah, I almost forgot to ask… I think most people agree that “Team US Eh” was the greatest team name at MLG Nashville, with the possible exception of “B 2the Oobies.” (everyone laughs) I just wanted to know who came up with this name, and if there’s any story behind it.
Mr. Ownage: Originally I was looking for a new GamerTag, and Panda here suggested that as my new name. I was like, “I’ll think about it.” Then when this team got together it came back up.
Sad Panda: It was a toss-up between Team US Eh and MrGjakEh.
Mr. Ownage: I think when I suggested that, everyone wanted to kill me. They were like, “You’re off the team.”