I had a chance to sit down recently with MLG St. Louis second place team iGameSpot to discuss their stressfully close series with Team 3D in the finals. Although characteristically talkative, the guys were reluctant to discuss the details surrounding the fateful final tiebreaking match of TS Beaver Creek that found them finishing once again just behind the reigning Halo 2 champions. Always in great spirits, the IGS squad had a lot to say about their tournament experience, even dropping the special strategy they used to give 3D such a close race. Enraptured by the deadly allure of World of Warcraft, Sergio flittered in and out of the interview, mesmerized, and McGavin was nowhere to be found, but Gandhi and Shockwave picked up the slack. Have a look to see what went on in the IGS camp at the tournament, as well as to find out about the team’s affectionate nickname for Shockwav3…

MLG: Guys, congratulations on your second place finish in St. Louis. You gave 3D a serious run for their money and proved that they are not invincible. Did you specifically design any of your strategies around beating 3D this time out?

Shockwav3: No, none of our strategies were specifically to beat 3D.

MLG: When you guys went 1 – 5 in Pool Play, did you think you were going to finish really poorly in the tournament? What was going on?

Gandhi: It was all my fault.

MLG: Why do you say that?

Gandhi: I’m horrible on split-screen.

MLG: Are you really bad enough to drag the whole team down though?

Gandhi: Uh huh.

Shockwav3: I don’t think any of us are really that good on split-screen. Gandhi is just the worst, but none of us played well at all Saturday.

MLG: When you met up with 3D in the winners’ semis, were you still down about your loss in Orlando? Were you nervous about playing them again?

Shockwav3: When we went into the winners’ semis we were really confident actually. We played those gametypes like every time when we practiced online, so we were feeling really confident going in that we could at least pull off maybe a 3 – 2 or do well against them–and we did.

MLG: What was your biggest challenge in getting back to the tournament finals once you were knocked to the losers’ bracket?

Gandhi: EXI. They took us to five games.

Shockwav3: Exigent. They were the hardest team we had to play other than 3D. They should have gotten third place in my opinion.

Gandhi: Yeah.

MLG: What was it that made them a stronger team than Str8 Rippin in your eyes?

Gandhi: I just think we underestimated them a lot.

Shockwav3: Yeah, they were just randomly strong at some gametypes. I don’t know–they held out positions differently than most teams and it really confused you.

MLG: When you guys made it to the tournament finals, you already knew that you could have a close series with 3D, because you did in the winners’ semis. What was your game plan going in?

Gandhi: Kill ****.

(everyone laughs)

MLG: What was it about your playing that made the series so close in the finals?

Shockwav3: I don’t know, why don’t you ask Sergio?

Gandhi: Yeah, Sergio, you’re not talking.

Sergio: Uhhh, what was the question?

(everyone laughs)

Gandhi: WoW, guaranteed.

MLG: Is this guy eating a sandwich or something?

Shockwave: No, he’s playing WoW.

MLG: (repeats question for Sergio)

Sergio: Oh, uh… I don’t know. We just played well, I guess.

Shockwav3: Alright, you can go back to your WoW game now.

“… I think 3D just destroyed us at the end. I don’t think any team could have gotten out of that.” – Shockwav3, discussing 3D’s 20 kill comeback to win the finals

Sergio: Usually I don’t answer questions like that. Shockwav3, you’re supposed to answer those. That’s a Shockwav3 question.

(everyone laughs)

Shockwav3: I’m giving the spotlight to someone else.

Gandhi: Tell him what you told me online, about “put your team in a dilemma” or some shit.

Shockwav3: Yeah, when we were practicing before the tournament… I came up with most of the strategies–our basic strategies–that we all just sort of advanced on. But most of the objective stuff we did revolved around what I call the “Objective Dilemma.” It’s like (for example), when you have the Oddball but you don’t have that many people alive but you have some control, or a power weapon–when the other team spawns they’re not sure if they want to go for the objective guy or they want to get control back first. And depending on what they do you can get a few crucial seconds… Like if they go for the objective guy, you have a chance of picking them all off before they even get there.

MLG: Right. It seemed like in your series against 3D you were scrapping up the miscellaneous seconds here and there instead of trying to really set up.

Shockwav3: Yeah, because with 3D, they never went for the ball guy right away. They always went for control first, and the way that happened was that we just kept getting time while they were trying to get control back and they just gave us some of the time we needed. Like, if they came to BR tower (on Lockout) sometimes the ball guy would be able to get away to sniper tower from underneath, because they all charged top or something. The “Dilemma” with the objective really helped out and it’s probably the best strategy for the objective game right now.

MLG: Is that a good universal strategy that works against everyone?

Shockwav3: It works well against everyone. The first time I’d ever seen it–I’ll give it to Str8 Rippin. Fonzi used to just get the objective every other second, and his whole team would try to kill, so it always created a dilemma when we played them and that’s how I came up with a lot of my strategies and a lot of the strategies that we use.

MLG: So is Str8 Rippin the team you’ve been practicing with the most?

Shockwav3: No, we refuse.

Gandhi: Fonzi’s host is just bad. He has the worst host on Xbox Live.

Shockwav3: We play with a lot of people. We played with these kids called Illicit Gaming–they weren’t bad. They’ve got a T1 host, which is mainly why we played with them.

Gandhi: Uh huh.

Shockwav3: We played with HCx a little bit. We had played NeX, which is a team going to Philadelphia consisting of Blade, Fatal, Pistol and Hoodz. But now they’re taking Bizarre ZLG to Philly instead of Hoodz.

Gandhi: I think NeX was really good to play against.

Shockwav3: We played against 3D a little bit too, and we kind of scrimmaged EXI at some points.

MLG: This one is for Sergio. You there, man? (laughs)

Sergio: Yeah, I’m here.

MLG: When you went on your no-scoping rampage on Ivory Tower in the finals, how did that come together? It looked like you were expecting to do that, because you were walking around with your sniper out the whole time, just patrolling the top floor.

Sergio: Yeah, you know, sometimes you just get in those grooves, and I was just in that no-scoping mode. I just ran around no-scoping.

MLG: Well, during times like that, and when you won Neutral Bomb Midship, it seemed like a big part of the crowd was on your side wanting you to win. Do you think that helped you guys feel more confident about your games?

Sergio: Yeah, whenever you got the crowd behind you…

Shockwav3: … It was a lot different than it was in Orlando, when everyone was amazed that we’d even gotten to second place. Then of course when we gave up everyone hated us for it…

Gandhi: Yeah.

MLG: So you were pretty surprised then when the crowd was actually supporting you?

Shockwav3: Well, they had a good reason to. 3D has not been dethroned yet this season, so people always like to root for the underdogs.

Gandhi: I think it was because they knew we were at least the second best team there regardless, because I mean, we did beat every other team (referring to Str8 Rippin and Exigent) on Sunday.

MLG: In the final game of TS Beaver Creek, you guys had…

Shockwav3: We’re not gonna talk about that game.

Gandhi: Just go on to the next question.

MLG: We’ve got to! I just gotta know what happened, guys. I mean, you had total control and an 11 point lead at 40 kills. How’d it fall apart?

Shockwav3: Next question. (laughs)

MLG: Alright…

Shockwav3: Watch VoD. That’s how it happened.

Gandhi: Actually, what did happen? I don’t even remember what happened.

Shockwav3: I just remember being dead, then spawning under Walshy when he had rockets, and then never really spawning again. Like three of us did.

MLG: So in general, what do you think was your downfall in that series?

Gandhi: Communication.

Shockwav3: I don’t think we really had a downfall as much as they just got really really clutch. They were just in the right places at the right times. Like Walshy grabbed the OS right when it came back and grabbed the rocket, and they did a really smart portal rush to get behind our base. Then after that their team just moved like clockwork, it was just…

MLG: So did you feel that there was just nothing you could do at that point once they had taken control back?

Shockwav3: Yeah, it actually felt like we could not go outside the base and stay alive.

Gandhi: The only thing I remember from that game was when it was 48 – 42 in Blue Base, and I looked over at Shockwav3 and I was like, “We lost.”

MLG: Do you think you just became unorganized?

Shockwav3: You could say that, but I think 3D just destroyed us at the end. I don’t think any team could have gotten out of that.

Gandhi: I mean, when you look at a 20 – 2 run you’re either thinking that the other team is really bad or they were just playing amazingly.

Shockwav3: … And 3D was just on fire for those last 20 kills. They got real clutch when they needed to be and they won the tournament because of it.

MLG: What would be the secret to beating them the next time you meet up?

Shockwav3: Confidence. Of course you have to have good teamwork, but as long as you don’t go into the games thinking you’re going to lose, you actually have a chance. Like if you know that you could win this gametype, you might actually have a chance of winning it against them. We did this in Orlando–we went into the games thinking, “We have no chance against them,” and we didn’t. We got destroyed. This tournament we came in thinking, “We’ve been destroying today, we’re playing amazing, and I think we’re gonna beat them.” Then we did extremely well.

MLG: Do you think any of the other teams at this tournament should have placed higher or lower than they did, or do you think everything turned out pretty much as expected?

Shockwav3: The biggest disappointment was Team Catalyst.

Gandhi: No, Nistic’s team. They didn’t make it to the second day.

Shockwav3: No, Team Catalyst. They should easily have been the 8th place team I think. They didn’t even make it into bracket play.

Gandhi: Neither did Nistic’s team.

Shockwav3: No, they made it to Top 32, they just lost their first round in the bracket.

MLG: How much stronger do you think your team is now that you have Sergio?

Gandhi: Doesn’t it show by the games against 3D?

MLG: Well, it’s not for me to say what the difference was between Orlando and STL.

Gandhi: I like it better this way.

Shockwav3: Well, we got closer to 3D, so the change was a good one.

MLG: In the 3D interview, Walshy said that you guys are way more serious about competition than it looks like you are. Is that true?

Gandhi: Uh-huh. Yeah, we just joke around because we don’t feel like concentrating as hard as we can. We play to have fun.

Shockwav3: Well, when you play the game and you have a serious mindset, at least I get to anger really fast. So if you keep joking around it keeps you calm and relaxed, and you just play better. It stops needless bitching basically.

Gandhi: When you try your hardest most of the time you get really disappointed about some things…

Shockwav3: Yeah, you get angry. Like if you try, and then someone misses something that you normally wouldn’t care about, all of a sudden you’re on their case. It leads to bitching that no team needs.

MLG: Since you keep a light atmosphere to keep yourselves from getting angry, do you think that still has you playing at the top of your game?

Gandhi: Yeah, it does.

Shockwav3: It seems like in this game if you try too hard you play worse. So much more than Halo 1, there are so many random things that can happen, so if you don’t keep your mind open to what’s going on you’ll get killed from behind, which will just get you mad fast.

Gandhi: Sergio, what do you think?

Shockwav3: He thinks WoW is the greatest game ever made.

MLG: He’s thinking he’s halfway to level 40 and he’s going to get his mount soon, or whatever.

(everyone laughs)

MLG: Do you think that having iGameSpot as a sponsor has helped you guys focus on your game more, since your performances directly effect whether or not you continue to get free travel to the tournaments?

Gandhi: I wouldn’t be able to go to the tournaments unless I had free travel.

Shockwav3: Same for me, so it definitely has affected our ability to go to tournaments.

Gandhi: And I love to go to tournaments.

Shockwav3: We’re going to be contracted, and we’re going to have to play a certain number of nights a week for a certain amount of hours of practice. So it’ll keep us playing up until two or three weeks before a tournament–then we’ll really just be playing constantly like every night.

MLG: How many hours a night are you going to be expected to play?

Shockwav3: I think it’s three or four nights a week and probably two or three hours each night.

MLG: You’re all in school, right?

Gandhi: Yeah.

MLG: Is that going to be an issue when school goes back in session?

Shockwav3: It wasn’t for us at the end of last school year. It won’t be an issue for me, that’s for sure.

Gandhi: I just do all my homework in study hall.<
Shockwav3: The only problem I can see is probably WoW.

Gandhi: That, and me having to go to bed kinda early.

MLG: Do you guys all play WoW or is it just Sergio?

Gandhi: I’m gonna start playing WoW.

Shockwav3: Yeah, our team is falling into the Saiyan Syndrome. I’d be addicted to it in a millisecond if I tried it. I just want to stay away from it so I don’t get hooked on it.

MLG: Do you guys ever watch the videos of your games to analyze the way you play or see where you can improve? Or even to see what the other teams do for strategy?

Gandhi: I think Shockwav3 does that.

Shockwav3: I usually watch myself to see what I can do better. One thing I learned from (watching videos of) Orlando is that I don’t reload enough, and I didn’t seem to have that problem in St. Louis–so I improved my game in that way. I normally don’t watch other teams to see what strategies they use. I do watch our games, and probably the only other team would be 3D, just to check and see if they’re doing anything new. Like if something happened, and I have no idea what they were doing and what I died from, I’ll go back and watch it to see what’s going on. I don’t analyze and tell our team, “Oh, well we lost the BR tower, so we need to keep more people in the window,” or anything.

MLG: I know there are some complications with the future lineup of your team. Are you going to have to replace McGavin? Isn’t he going to the Air Force?

Gandhi: Yeah, we have to replace McGavin.

Shockwav3: Well, McGavin hasn’t completely committed to the Air Force yet. He knows he’s gonna go, but he doesn’t know when. So we’re not sure what we’re gonna do. We have a conference call with SoJo–he’s our sponsor–soon and we’re going to decide what to do with our team.

MLG: How many of you are able to make it to Philly?

Gandhi: Just me and McGavin.

MLG: So there won’t really be an IGS in Philly then… Do you think that if you were able to take your full lineup to Philly–since it’s all TS–you’d have a better chance of beating 3D?

Gandhi: No, we’re very strong in objectives.

Shockwav3: I don’t think so. If you look at the games where we beat 3D and they beat us… they beat us four out of five Team Slayer games, and we beat them four out of six objectives.

MLG: Do you think 3D is the strongest slaying team out there?

Shockwav3: Yeah, I do. I don’t think anyone will be able to touch them in a slaying tournament. People have the wrong idea about how Team Slayer is so random that they can win. 3D is just such a good team that it just won’t be random for them. I do think EXI is going to get second place though, or whatever their name is now.

MLG: Gandhi, who are you playing with in Halo 1 at Philly?

Gandhi: It’s me, Killer N, Tupac and Zyos. That’s the plan, but I don’t know about Zyos for sure.

MLG: OK, one last question… It has come to my attention, Shockwav3, that your teammates always refer to you as “Little Bitch.” Why?

Shockwav3: Because I’m a little bitch.

Gandhi: Oooohhh!

(everyone laughs)

MLG: There’s gotta be a story.

Sergio: Nope, that’s it. (laughs)

Shockwav3: No, I just bitch all the time online. When we practice online I’m like the Team Bitch.

Gandhi: He sits there and whines about lag all game so we just started calling him that.

MLG: (laughing) Wow, you guys are so nice! Alright, guys, thanks a lot for your time, and congrats on your performance at MLG St. Louis.