Strongside
Final Boss’ Strongside

Homepage Photo: Jon Wasserman

After proving themselves the most dominant team in Halo 2’s long history on the MLG Pro Circuit, all eyes were on Final Boss as they entered into a new era of competition in Halo 3. They entered MLG Meadowlands with winning in mind and, after dominating nearly every opponent in their path, the guys from Final Boss achieved their goal in seemingly easy fashion. We sat down with Strongside to talk about the win, San Diego, and Ogre 1 on Guardian:

MLG: Let me kick this off by saying congrats! Did it feel like old times again?

Strongside: Yeah! It was one long weekend, but it feels good to be back on top again. We had been practicing for so long and it was awesome to finally play for real. It was definitely one of the longest weekends we’ve had in a long time, but it was good to be back and in the thick of it all.

MLG: Let’s talk about the Finals for a moment. It was pretty obvious that the crowd was heavily in Final Boss’ favor throughout the series. How does that feel during a big match?

Strongside: Having the crowd in your favor is definitely a huge confidence booster. Nothing else gets you pumped up like having the majority of an entire venue cheering you on. Especially when you do something sick and the crowd just starts going wild – that’s when I play my best.

Strongside was an essential cog to Final Boss’ Meadowlands machine.

MLG: Tell us about what it was like to play through an Open Bracket for the first time in years?

Strongside: Oh geez! It was definitely a challenge, but it was a good experience to play teams that we usually never have the chance to go against. It was fun getting to play on split screen and battling our way to the top instead of automatically being seeded in the Championship Bracket. To tell you the truth, it really felt like back in the days of when I first started playing in the league.

MLG: You guys had a LAN with Classic prior to the event. Do you think that helped you in the Finals?

Strongside: To be honest, I think it actually helped us throughout the entire tournament. They play an aggressive style which seems to be good strategy in Halo 3. That is something we weren’t really used to and by playing with them we adapted to that style. It really made us realize that we had to make some changes in our game.

MLG: I asked Classic the same question and they agreed that it also helped them out throughout the whole weekend.

Strongside: It definitely helped us both.

MLG: Could you tell that they were going to do well based on practicing with them?

Strongside: (laughs) It’s funny you ask that. While we were LANing, everyone had gone to sleep except for myself and the guys from Classic. They asked me about how they thought they were doing and how I thought they would place. I told them, “You guys are getting Top 2, hands down.” They were downing themselves and were expecting a Top 5 or 6 finish, but I explained to them, with their unique playing style, no other team is going to be prepared for it – and I was right!

MLG: Wait. So you’re saying Ogre 2 sleeps? He’s a human?! I find this very hard to believe…

Strongside: (laughs) Believe it or not, yes! Ogre 2 is human.

MLG: Changing focus again, tell us a little about what went wrong in that match against Instinct.

Strongside: Instinct were just on their game in that series and were all playing extremely well. I think what we did wrong is when we start to win a game, we tend to start taking it easy. Instinct are a team that you definitely can’t do that against and we learned that the hard way.

MLG: Did going to the Losers Bracket affect you mentally and was it tough to bounce back after such a loss?

Strongside: It did affect us mentally, but I think it was in a positive way. It made us more determined than ever to come back and win it all. It was tough, but at the same time, it was a good challenge to really test our team. The entire tournament was really draining and I think that may have had something to with the loss, but I really had a lot of fun getting to play so many games in the MLG atmosphere. When you’re at a tournament, everyone is watching you and you’re pumped the whole weekend. It doesn’t even compare to playing at home with no crowd and no one there to cheer you on.

MLG: Aside from your teammates on Final Boss, what player impressed you the most at the Meadowlands?

Strongside: I’m going to have to cheat on this one. I have to go with the entire Team Classic roster. Every one of them was equally the strongest player I saw all weekend. For being their first tournament together as a team, they played absolutely insanely! They all seem to contribute to doing everything and don’t have a role-based team like our own. I expect to see great things from them in the future as they get more experience together.

MLG: I can’t say that I disagree. Now what was the sickest play you saw all weekend?

Strongside: Ogre 1.

MLG: Triple kill… Guardian… Finals?

Strongside: Yes, ridiculous!

MLG: Indeed.

Strongside: Insane in the brain!

MLG: That too.

Strongside: I’m so glad I got to see it first hand. I was on the death screen and was watching him as he almost single handedly took out the entire team. That was definitely one the highlights of my weekend.

MLG: The roar that followed from the crowd was deafening.

Strongside: The crowd loved it. I loved it. Everyone loved it.

MLG: Ok so here’s the scenario – it’s a 49-49 slugfest between FB and Str8 on TS Guardian. You were in blue window and Elamite was at the bottom green. After a two-minute stalemate, you kill Elamite for the win. Tell us a little bit about how it played out from your perspective.

Strongside: Just so you know, Elamite just left my house a few minutes ago!

MLG: That’s probably a good thing.

Strongside: (laughs) That was an unbelievably intense moment and my heart was pumping so fast. I was in the blue window and I had “the feeling” that I get every once in a while to just wait it out. When I get that feeling, I know to just go with it. Sure enough, before long he jumped up onto the tree and I finished him off for the W.

MLG: What goes through your head after pulling off a play like that?

Strongside: Total relief. It’s also nice to be able to finally breathe normally again!

MLG: All right, as much as I’d like to go on, we have to stop with the sick plays. Is there anything that you feel FB has improved on from ’07?

Strongside: For the most part, I’d say our teamwork. As time goes on, we just keep getting better at reading each other and knowing what needs to be done at all times.

MLG: Speaking of teamwork, did you see any innovative strategies from anyone?

Strongside: It seemed to be pretty standard except for a few of the top teams. I’m guessing after some of the video footage starts to roll out, we’ll start to see many different strategies and tactics evolve for San Diego.

MLG: Do you think the Top 8 will stay the same throughout the season?

Strongside: It’s hard to tell at this point, but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s going to change a little bit from tournament to tournament. Strategies will be changing and everyone will keep getting smarter as time goes on. Teams will probably start to mimic strategies that they saw from the top teams at the Meadowlands, which will keep making it harder to stay on top.

MLG: And finally, looking forward, are you starting to prepare for San Diego yet?

Strongside: I’m actually starting back right after this interview. I’m guessing the other guys will start practicing in a few more days or so. Normally I wouldn’t have taken this long of a break, but I needed to catch up on sleep!

MLG: That’s what I call dedication. Unfortunately, that about wraps it up. Anything you want to add?

Strongside: I have to give a shout out to all our fans! You guys definitely pumped us up throughout the entire tournament and kept us going when times got tough. Thanks for the support! Hope to see you guys in San Diego!