Under The Influence came into Dallas without a pro seed and were forced to play through a grueling Open Bracket. After emerging from the talented field of Open teams, they found themselves mingling with some of the Pro Circuit’s biggest names late in the Losers Bracket, where they would eventually walk away with a 7th place finish. To honor their outstanding performance, we sat down with Dallas’ highest placing amateur team to relive the magic of August 28-30.

MLG: Congrats guys! You pulled off one of the most inspiring accomplishments of the season. How did you guys do it?

Twylight: Thanks. It took a lot of hard work and dedication. Most importantly, you’ve got to have a team of four people that don’t have big egos. Anyone with ego issues will stunt the growth of a team.

A Pure Gangster: Some last minute practice and having the drive to win. Believing in each other and being confident was also a huge help.

Batmayne: Hard work and determination was a big factor in our success. LAN’ing against another team beforehand really helped gel our personalities together – not only in game, but outside as well.

Talent: Twylight and I really had more determination after Columbus where we both got Top 24, and we realized what we were capable of. It was a matter of refocusing and not letting anybody else’s name or previous placings determine how we were going to create our team. Maniac was our 4th a week and a half before the tournament and decided to leave to join the better team on paper in Believe the Hype. It gave us all the more fuel to play 41 or so games from Saturday to Sunday. We did it with the help of everyone sticking to what they were good at, and when you have chemistry like we naturally did, you can do big things.

After taking down Believe the Hype, Under The Influence became the highest placing amateur team in Dallas.

MLG: And then you ended up knocking Maniac’s team out of the event right? How crazy was that?

Batmayne: That was pretty crazy – especially because we were still rooming with him for a night. It felt good to know that we could still do it without him.

Talent: After we were down 4-1 on Onslaught Capture The Flag and came back to win 5-4, we felt so confident that it just played out in the last 4 games of the series. They got a late run on us on Pit Team Slayer and won, and also beat us in Game 3. We got to our bread and butter gametype of Narrows Flag and gained the momentum back, and in Game 5 we just were so pumped up that we weren’t going to lose. Plus Cloud seemed out of it after going 3-17 on Narrows.

A Pure Gangster: It felt great knowing that I replaced him and apparently meshed better with uTi than he did. The intensity level was high especially when we were down on Onslaught 4-1 and came back to win. Same thing with the series being 2-1 them and going into Game 5. The last game we gave our all because we all wanted that win so badly.

Twylight: We knew that we would be playing them on Sunday morning if we beat Heaven & Earth for Top 12. On Saturday night I sat outside of the hotel telling D3M0N D and Maniac that they had no chance at beating us for Top 8 for about 20 minutes straight. They thought I was delusional.

MLG: So I get the vibe that there really weren’t any hard feelings with Maniac after the split?

Talent: That’s true. Maniac came down to my house in Leesburg once and a while periodically throughout the summer for my LAN, as well as to come over to practice and just chill like a friend that lives down the block from you. Nick is my homie and it’s just unfortunate for him to have such a good offer in the 5th seed and then end up in that situation. You never beat a team that you leave; I’ve noticed that’s becoming a trend now a days.

Batmayne: Yeah, Walshy for the win! The split wasn’t really that hard for us because it was completely understandable. Who in their right mind wouldn’t take being on the 5th seeded team? He did it last year with Fatal Images, so why not this year?

Twylight: Nope, no hard feelings from me at least. Maniac and I have been friends for a while and I completely understood the decision he made. I still talk to him and wish him the best of luck on the new BtH.

MLG: So have you talked since the match? What was that conversation like?

A Pure Gangster: He told us about how his team was getting frustrated and upset because they were losing. They couldn’t do what they usually do like snipe and spawn trap us. We were completely shutting them down and you could hear the frustration in their voices across the station.

Batmayne: There was some weirdness to it seeing him around, but after awhile he shrugged it off and looked toward Anaheim. I actually had to fly home on the same flight as Demon D and Maniac since we all live fairly close.

Talent: We hung out with Demon D and Maniac Sunday night. Of course they were disappointed in how they lost, so we didn’t rub it in. The only thing said that was noteworthy was Demon D telling me that Cloud had a bad series.

Twylight: Well, after the series I stood up and said “nice team change Nick,” along with some other unkind words that don’t need to be mentioned. (laughs) I talked to him in the lobby that night; He seemed pretty disappointed but informed me that he would be on BtH for Anaheim which he was excited about.

Talent: He’s where he belongs. He really loves Cloud and Demon’s playstyle. We found what suited us as he found what suited him.

UTI blazed through the Open Bracket to eventually find themselves playing amongst some of MLG’s most notable pro teams.

MLG: APG: You were on the top placing amateur team in Meadowlands – High Society, and then here you are again. Are you some sort of good luck charm or just really nasty?

A Pure Gangster: (laughs) You could say both. I guess when people take chances on me I always live up to what they expect.

Talent: The luck charm was found in his intensity. Playing 40+ games where everyone is trying their hardest can wear you down with little opportunities to take time out of the venue to eat. Bradley kept us in it energy wise against the teams we usually would get lazy against.

Batmayne: APG is the truth. He always knows how to keep everyone having fun and brings a level of intensity to the game. While he plays, you get this feeling that you know you’re going to win and that’s what drives us to do so well.

MLG: So for the rest of you guys – You’re not exactly new to the game either. Rattle off some of the teams you’ve been a part of.

Batmayne: Chilled Reality and Time to Prove.

Twylight: The Influence six times, XiT WoundZ once, and Darkest Hour twice.

Talent: The Influence, Reload After 4, Clutch Like Kobe, and End Result. I’ve learned a lot from every teammate I have been with. As crazy as it is to say, this is the first team I’m ever going to be on with the same roster after going to nearly 20 MLG events.

Twylight: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

MLG: How does it feel to be officially within the pro ranks?

A Pure Gangster: It feels great for me knowing that I’ve never had a pro seed before. All I’m looking forward to now is WBR1.

Batmayne: It feels good for now, but we’ve all be here before except for APG and are really determined to be at the Top 8 ranking were we know we should be.

Talent: Being pro after getting that status previously only leads you to your next goal, which for all of us is being on top.

MLG: A few more performances like that and you’ll be there.

Talent: A few more performances isn’t what it takes. All it takes at an MLG Competition in Halo 3 is consistency over 3 days. If you let up or go a few mindless kills in a slayer match, it can really make the difference. I seriously believe that the only difference between the Top 8 teams is the consistency of their clutch factor. All any team needs is three days of being on point as a group of four.

MLG: Was this the best placing you all had ever pulled off in H3?

Batmayne: Yeah, this was my best placing.

Twylight: Talent and I were stuck in the Top 12 last season and placed 9th at Toronto. As it turns out, Baymayne and APG were what we needed all along.

Talent: (laughs) Twylight and I have gotten our best placings with teams that did not have any serious aura to them, and placed our lowest with what we felt were our best teams on paper prior to the tournament. Now I can safely say that I’ve never had better teammates. Batmayne holds spots down and snipes with fury. Then you have Twylight and I performing telekinesis in game. Finally, the Gangster is released.

MLG: What were your expectations coming into the event?

Batmayne: Whether it was Top 8, Top 6, or Top 4 – we knew we could pull it off.

A Pure Gangster: We all knew we could go far. Judging from the LAN we had, everything was a perfect fit. From when Maniac left the team, everything went uphill from there. Top 8 was decent, but we all wanted more.

Twylight: After the pre-LAN we had set up a week before Dallas, which was made possible by Talent’s mom, I had all the confidence in the world in this team. So I would say I was expecting Top 12 if we played our worst and Top 6 if we had played our best. The expectations for Anaheim will be higher.

Talent: 4th – 8th. After our 50-9 LAN against Overnight Sensation, we figured either we were a lot better, or that they didn’t have good chemistry.

With their 7th place finish, Under the Influence have secured themselves a pro seed for the next event in Anaheim.

MLG: What’s your plan from now until Anaheim?

Twylight: Be a team for more than 2 weeks prior to the event. (laughs)

Batmayne: I think we’re having a pre-LAN of random 4’s at Talent’s house in about a week or two with some BtH members and some Carbon members. Then from there, a full team LAN depending on our school schedules.

Talent: I’d say our master scheme is to practice; and while practicing, don’t doubt each other due to the Bungie links. That’s how resentment starts to build if you don’t realize 100% of non-close combat situations are different in LAN play.

A Pure Gangster: We are going to try and practice as much as possible to fix our mistakes and find out what we did wrong to improve, especially on our weaker gametypes so we can be the best team possible.

MLG: What has the response from the community been like since Dallas?

Twylight: A ton of support from the community, which is a first for me. (laughs) I’ve gotten a lot more messages on Xbox Live.

Batmayne: Yes sir. Many fans have messaged me a lot, more than usual, and I get a lot more respect from those already in the Top 6.

Talent: Mostly just people congratulating us. Twylight and I have been teaming for a while and to finally have something to show for it. It’s good because now people have proof that we are as good on LAN as we were online before Meadowlands ’08. Normally I would comment on how nice it is to have your team be in the discussion on the forums, but after reading the pro thread earlier today I realized that if you believe what people say about you, it makes it harder to do what you think you are capable of. People posting “uTi Top 12, Top 8 if they are on fire” is not something new to me, so we are just going to get better and go farther – then wait to see what type of attention we receive after placing Top 4.

A Pure Gangster: A lot of messages from people watching us play. It’s a big confidence boost for us to do even better.

Twylight: Yeah, this is only the beginning.

Batmayne: Yes sir – A new beginning to the uTi saga!