Coming out with top-honors from their second consecutive MLG event, Fonzi, Foulacy, Tsquared and Zyos of Trademark Gamers are currently casting a tall shadow over most of the competition on the Halo 2 circuit. TmG has a serious spark burning right now, as anyone who’s watched their past two tournaments can attest to.
Still, I’ve never seen a team have so much collective success yet still have to so far to go before earning mass-acceptance. Although Zyos was out on the GameRiot tour without any means to be present at the interview, the other three members of TmG were on hand to give us their thoughts on why the public is so reluctant to embrace their success, and why that same lack of acceptance is what keeps them sharp and hungry. Check out the interview to see how they are dealing with all of the spotlights focused on them, and see what hurdles lie ahead for TmG throughout the remainder of the MLG season.
MLG: Well guys, Las Vegas makes two back-to-back first place finishes for you guys! How do you feel after having been so close to the top all season and working so hard, and now having it all really start to pay off for you guys?
Foulacy: Feels good. It’s like, “finally!”
Tsquared: It’s amazing. It was satisfying destroying IGS after all the trash they talked, especially after reading their interviews with all the lies in them. Especially the Orlando interview, where they said that I got kicked off the team and stuff like that–it was pretty funny. When Gandhi and Vash were saying that they kicked me off after Houston–if you think about it, they were supposed to team with Fonzi and Foulacy, but me and Karma teamed with them, so really they (Gandhi and Vash) got kicked off their team. So pretty much all IGS did was lie and talk s*** and they didn’t back it up.
MLG: What was it like coming into a tournament as the favorite for a change rather than as the underdogs?
Foulacy: It really was no different for me.
Tsquared: It wasn’t different, but I was pissed off reading the forums and seeing people put IGS ahead of us.
Fonzi: I’m glad we put that to shame.
MLG: Were you guys happy to be getting back to objective gametypes?
Tsquared: Yes, definitely. It’s a lot more fun.
MLG: Before Philly, IGS was generally considered to be the second best team. IGS wasn’t at Philly in their full form, so it remained to be seen how TmG’s new lineup would match against them. Were you guys nervous at all?
Fonzi: I was a bit uneasy going in, because we got the least practice ever for an event. In St. Louis they were on fire, but they hadn’t played our new lineup. But nonetheless, I was still kind of worried about it. I didn’t know what to expect.
Tsquared: I was a little worried. I just had no idea how good they would be at all, if they would be really good or really bad. Plus, we had no practice at all. We probably got in about 15 – 20 minutes of practice for about four days, so we probably got in about an hour-and-a-half total of practice, and those were our first times ever playing objectives as a team for that tournament. And we only lost four games the whole tournament so…
MLG: How important do you guys think it is for your team to earn the first seed after FFA and Pool Play? Is that something you guys take pride in?
Foulacy: Yeah, that’s one of the most important things; to maintain the first seed throughout the tournament. You have the most options at that point. You get host every game, and you get color choice for three of the games–you just have an advantage.
Fonzi: If anything it’s also a really good warm-up to get you in the right mindset.
Tsquared: …And you can just be like “Well, we’re top seed. We get everything!” (laughs)
MLG: As far as the FFA went, how did you guys feel about the all-Midship, all-human weapons set-up?
Foulacy: So much better.
Fonzi: I think individually it’s worse for me, but overall for everyone it’s a much better gametype.
Foulacy: The only way you would get knocked out before was just if you got stuck 10 times in a row by random kids, and then you lose.
Tsquared: It eliminates a lot more of the randomness by getting rid of Beaver Creek, which was really random. Getting rid of all the sticky grenades and green guns and stuff like that helps a lot too, so you’ll start seeing the top players in the top spots a lot more hopefully.
MLG: We were just talking a minute ago about how you guys have a lot of rivalry history with the IGS guys. It seems like for the most part you guys all take it in stride, but it kind of seems like a one-way thing where they just say that you guys are “bad.” Why do you think they still refused to respect your abilities even after you beat Team 3D?
Foulacy: It was a combination of stuff I think…
Tsquared: From what I saw at Vegas, they were only talking s*** because they were scared. I could tell after playing them and beating them 3 – 0 that they were scared. That’s why then never ended up talking any more trash. If you looked at Gandhi playing against Vash’s team, he was talking a lot of trash when he played them because he was confident. But he was scared to talk trash to us in the Finals.
Foulacy: Yeah. Right at the beginning of Elongation in the first game when they scored, he talked trash, but then we just wrecked them from there on out and he was silent. He didn’t really say anything. I saw from that point on in the tournament until the end they were gathered around talking strategy and stuff.
MLG: So you think getting stomped by you guys in the Winners’ Finals was a bit of a wake-up call to them to get serious and stop all the talking?
Fonzi: I don’t think we’re really a team that talks trash. I think we just prove it in the games we play.
Tsquared: I stopped talking so much s***, and all the haters that hate on our team, I just use that as positive energy. That’s my motive to practice. Without people talking s*** to me, I would never practice.
MLG: Did you guys see the now-infamous prediction post that Gandhi made before the tournament was over, or did you not see that until you got home?
Foulacy: Yeah, we saw it.
MLG: What were you guys thinking at the tournament when you saw that?
Foulacy: Sucks for him!
Tsquared: It was a lot better than any other Free-for-all I’ve ever played in Halo 2. It was definitely the best FFA ever.
Tsquared: I saw it when he got eliminated from the Free-for-All, and I just started laughing. He got eliminated in the top 128, and there were like barely more than 128 people there.
MLG: It seemed like in your series versus IGS, you guys had a faster sort of game pace than you did against 3D in Philly. Did you guys consciously tailor your strategies to counteract IGS’ aggressive style?
Foulacy: Maybe subconsciously.
Fonzi: I think we knew what to expect going in and playing them. I guess we kind of adapted more on the spot–we didn’t plan anything. We knew that we’d have a charging team and that if we were to hold anything we’d have to really be able to hold it well.
Tsquared: You can see in the Lockout Team Slayer game when we were down by about 14 kills when they were in the 40′s, and we ended up finally getting our setup. I mean, we had bad spawns right in the beginning. We all spawned Bottom BR and they spawned Library right above us. They dropped down and got the sword. From the very beginning it was really random until we got some clutch kills and got our setup. Then we went on like an 18 – 4 run or something like that.
MLG: When you were playing the TS games against them, did you think you played them any differently because the whole tournament wasn’t about that anymore?
Tsquared: No, we don’t play differently for each team. Each team plays differently, and we just play our style. When we played 3D, we got that setup and they never charged. They just camped the other side of the map and we stayed in our positions–we always had the higher ground versus them. But with IGS, we get in our setup and they charge, and if they break our setup we have to reform on a different part of the map. It’s not like we change our strategies. We don’t sit there and go over strategies like people think we do. We practice 20 minutes a day. And that’s not to take anything away from IGS, but we did not practice at all.
MLG: Just as in Philly, you guys earned the privilege of going into the Championship Finals with a 3 – 0 lead over your opponents. Then if you look at the last series, you guys tied IGS 3 – 3, giving you the win 6 – 3 overall. It looks on paper like your team shows up strongest in the Winners’ Finals. Do you think there’s any weight to that?
Foulacy: That’s where we try the hardest, obviously.
Tsquared: Yeah, that’s definitely where we try the hardest. Then when we get up we don’t try as hard. I know when the other teams are down they are trying their hardest–and we’re trying too, but it comes down to who wants it more. If you look at our games versus IGS it was TS Sanctuary, that we lost and TS Ivory Tower, which are the two most random TS games possible. Those are the two worst Team Slayer maps and they need to be removed immediately. They’re horrible gametypes. So IGS beat us in those, but we beat 3D in those in Philly… It’s just really random. Especially in Sanctuary snipes where you can be at one base and then a guy can spawn at Wet Rocks right behind you. It’s so ridiculous.
Foulacy: Yeah, that gametype needs to be absolutely removed and replaced with Colossus Team Slayer.
MLG: So now you guys have taken two tournaments in a row, and you’ve beaten each of the other two top teams. Do you feel like you still have anything to prove?
Fonzi: Yeah, I think our last step is gonna be beating 3D in a normal objective tournament.
Tsquared: But my main focus for our team… Our overall goal is to win New York City. Nothing else matters. We have to win NYC.
Foulacy: Yeah, because then it’s over and you can’t say nothin’ about it.
Tsquared: When we win that tournament, nobody will say anything else.
MLG: How do you guys feel about how people’s memories are conveniently lacking? I mean, you guys have always been known as objective players and an objective team. Then you win a Slayer tournament and all of a sudden you are a Slayer-only team. And now you’ve won an objective tournament, and people are still making excuses such as “3D wasn’t there,” etc.
Foulacy: It’s just an error that people’s brains make. They look for excuses when things don’t happen the way their brain thinks it should happen. That’s the easiest way to do it. They don’t realize they’re doing it.
MLG: But why do they want to make excuses for why you won? Why don’t they want you to win? Where’s the love?
Tsquared: We’re an odd team. We’re a really different team. A lot of people don’t like Zyos. A lot of people don’t like me. People don’t like Fonzi and Foulacy because they didn’t play Halo 1, so we’re a weird mix.
Foulacy: Such a weird mix…
Tsquared: So that’s why people hate on us. I don’t know why people will sit there and say we’re a**holes, but then when you hang out with us at tournaments we’re some of the most laid back guys.
Fonzi: I think it’s also because we’re not as openly fun as maybe IGS is. We really are serious about what we do, and when it comes down to it we’re not going to joke around and be crowd-pleasers. We’re gonna be there to win the game.
Foulacy: Yeah. 3D also has such a strong following of people who will never leave them. If they say we’re bad, those people will believe it. And no matter how many times 3D loses those people will still think that their beloved 3D is better than Str8 Rippin (TmG).
MLG: How do you guys think you’ll match up with 3D next time you meet at a tournament?
Tsquared: It’s too far to predict. Once Zyos gets off the GameRiot tour, it’s gonna be on, because we can finally actually practice consistently as a full team. The tour ends at the beginning of September, so after that the main match-ups are going to be the October match-ups–the Conference Championships and the Finals. We’ll finally be a team and we’ll know our strats like the back of our hands. We still develop strats at the tournaments right now, just because we don’t get all the time to practice that we want to.
Foulacy: Yeah, it’s on the spot.
MLG: So, does this limited-fanfare that you have gotten detract at all from the satisfaction of winning these tournaments?
Fonzi: I think it’s even better. We have something to prove, and I think that’s a pretty big motivation.
Tsquared: Yeah, that’s it. It motivates us.
MLG: So how did you guys get hooked up with Trademark Gamers?
Fonzi: That was all Tsquared.
Tsquared: I had to go through all these phony sponsorships, and then finally I contacted TmG and they were actually for real. They actually had the money to sponsor our team, and I really liked talking to their manager and we got along really well. We actually worked something out within 24 hours. That’s a pretty short time, but it was exactly what we were looking for.
MLG: So are you guys sponsored with TmG for the rest of the season now?
“I don’t know why people will sit there and say we’re a**holes, but then when you hang out with us at tournaments we’re some of the most laid back guys.” -TSquared, commenting on haters
Tsquared: We’re working on the contracts and stuff, but most likely.
MLG: How’d they react to your victory?
Tsquared: They were happy as hell.
Foulacy: As a company, quickly sponsoring a team like that who wins the tournament is like the best thing that you could hope for.
MLG: Let’s talk a little bit about the press at these events. Once again at this tournament, there was a whole lot of press coverage on you guys. In Philly you had MTV following around T2 and the rest of the team, and now there was a slew of local media in Vegas and a Red Bull film crew that spent a lot of time filming you guys. Tell us a little about your experience in the spotlight.
Foulacy: At first it was really weird, but then I got used to it. You kind of have to meet the camera guys, otherwise it feels really awkward. But once you find out that they’re really sick dudes it’s like, “OK, these guys can film me,” you know?
Tsquared: Yeah, I think it helps our team, because when the media coverage is there you want to step it up as much as possible so everyone who isn’t at the tournament can see–the sponsors and stuff–that TmG won the tournament. And Zyos winning the FFA was pretty big too.
MLG: So what are the Red Bull guys filming? Is it a documentary of sorts?
Fonzi: I think they’re trying to pass an idea by their managers, to give them a glimpse of what MLG is about and see if they’re interested in following up on it.
Tsquared: I had to leave Sunday night, but Courtney (from Red Bull) took us out to ESPN Zone, and he got us a limo to take us out to the strip, which was really tight.
Fonzi: Yeah, and we went to GameWorks to hang out at an arcade so they could get a feel for our team and hang out a bit.
Tsquared: They wanted to see the personalities of the players and stuff like that, and put a face with the company, and hopefully it will be our team.
MLG: So how do you feel things have changed throughout the season for competitive gaming? It seems like a lot of things have been blowing up throughout the season. How has that affected you guys?
Fonzi: It seems like there is a lot more media coverage. I don’t really remember any TV crews or anything like that earlier on this season. It seems like sponsorships are more readily available and are a bigger part for every team.
Tsquared: Yeah, right now, I have a lot of stuff going on. In September and October I have the MTV show airing, I have an NBC show airing, Cargo Magazine and a three-page EGM article. So hopefully around October, November and December when we have all those big media opportunities, a lot of big sponsors will see that and will be interested in our team and MLG and competitive gaming. Hopefully when it’s all said and done at the end of this season we’ll be coming up on the World Poker Tour and X Games and things like that.