By Broderick Shoemaker and Kyle Stout
The sun slipped below the horizon in November for another MLG Halo title, and the final National Champions of Halo 3 were anointed. Fans of the League were treated to the first threepeat of Halo 3, as Final Boss toppled Status Quo in the Championship Match. Three members of the squad stood up immediately following the clinching game, erupting in jubilation. One member of the team lingered in his seat, cradling his controller. For this player, much more was on the line than a single National Championship. Gaming history itself was the opponent, and he had just triumphed.
In a post-match interview, tournament MVP Pistola referred to his teammate, Ogre 2, as the greatest Halo player of all time. With the 2010 title under his belt, Ogre 2 may indeed be able to lay claim to this moniker. An examination of his tenure as a Halo player looks like a highlight reel of MLG history, a reel that exposes the truly staggering depth of his talent and variety of his accomplishments.
When Halo: Combat Evolved hit the shelves for the Xbox, it changed console first-person-shooter games forever. Player skill and the ease of LAN competition had never mixed as well. Suddenly there appeared a national network of players and, just as suddenly, a hierarchy among the game’s top talent. From different pockets of the country, rumors would emerge of players who could topple any foe. In the early days of national tournaments, only one team truly lived up to that hype: the Dream Team, affectionately known as TDT. This squad dominated early tourneys, often humiliating opponents, quelling all speculation about who was the best. Still, one rumored pocket of would-be challengers persisted. It seemed that a twin duo from Columbus, Ohio, was out there who could not only hang with TDT, but who could possibly make them look… ordinary. As any MLG fan knows, this duo was none other than Ogre 1 and Ogre 2. Though this article focuses on the exploits of Ogre 2, most of his career is inextricably linked with that of his brother. The pair led an unprecedented group of talent from Central Ohio to national prominence.
When the Ogres took their act on the road, their hopes of ending the TDT reign at first hit a roadblock. Halo50k in Atlanta matched Shoot to Kill, the squad featuring the twins, with TDT in the Semifinals. The savvy and experience of TDT won that day, but it would prove to be the high water mark for TDT. The Ogres took the loss in stride and recruited new teammates. They began to rule the national scene. They toppled TDT in one of the most famous Halo games of all time, the tiebreaker to the Finals at AGP 3. From that point on, StK and Ogre 2 were the clear sovereigns of the Halo world. When MLG finally became a full-fledged national circuit, Ogre 2 was already on top.
The first truly sizeable MLG tournament, known as Halo Nationals, occurred in Philadelphia in February, 2004 (the first official tournament held by MLG took place the previous fall in New York City and was won by TDT). Ogre 2 and Shoot to Kill steamrolled the bracket without dropping a match. MLG was off and running and StK were the unrivaled power. They blitzed the competition again at the second Event of the year in Dallas. Including 50k2, AGP 3, Halo Nationals, and Dallas, Shoot to Kill and Ogre 2 strung together four straight titles in disgusting fashion. The community reeled. Could a team that could challenge StK even theoretically exist? The top talent outside the Ogres decided they needed to put any ego and personality clashes aside and band together to give it a shot.
Zyos, Walshy, KillerN, and Gintron, known as Team FFA, shocked the Halo world in Chicago by doing the impossible and beating Shoot to Kill in the Finals. Showing their win was no fluke, they triumphed again in Atlanta. Was the Ogre run over before it really got into the history books? Hardly. Ogre 1 and Ogre 2 parted with teammates Strangepurple and Clockwork and joined forces with half of FFA to form Team Domination. Why break up a team that had won two tourneys in a row? Every member of FFA knew the undeniable truth: they had defeated the Ogres, but they were not better than the Ogres. The only possible course of action was to join them.
Team Domination throttled the field in Seattle. At that point, the twins took a few tournaments off, opting to forgo MLG Events in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston (they still attended and won AGP 5 and AGP 6 in the interim. The time off certainly didn’t seem to hurt them at all; they were back at it in New York for the first MLG National Championships. The invite-only tourney was a walk in the park for the top squad, as they downed Filthy Jackalopes (Zyos, Tupac, Gintron, and Toxin) in the Finals. The win gave Ogre 2 his first national title. At that point, Halo 2 was only a blip far off on the radar, but Ogre 2 already had four MLG tournament victories to his name.
As Halo 1′s days as the marquee title on the Pro Circuit drew to a triumphant close, the Ogres were undoubtedly the top players in the world. As great as they were at 4v4 competitions, they were even better at 2v2. The legendary duo never ceded a single match in tournament play. That probably bears repeating: they never ceded a single 2v2 match in tournament play. They were so good at 2v2 that they stopped playing with each other, just to give themselves a challenge. That might sound like sports-movie construct or cliche, but they really were just that good. Even in the two tournaments in which StK took 2nd Place in the 4v4, the Ogres kept winning the 2v2 events.
After Halo 50k, Ogre 1 and Ogre 2 won eight of ten national tournaments (including non-MLG Events). And of course, they were finalists in the two they didn’t win. This accomplishment started a streak for teams featuring Ogre 2 that would hit its stride with the onset of Halo 2. There was never a question as to whether the talent of the Ogres would translate to the new game. The only question was: could anyone keep up?
After finishing 2004 as the National Champion, Ogre 2 and his team (once again Shoot to Kill) replaced Killer N with Saiyan for the inaugural Halo 2 Season. From the first tournament of the year it was clear the entire team’s mastery of the game far exceeded that of their contemporaries. Not only did Shoot to Kill take home the 4v4 tournament with ease, but Ogre 2 also won the FFA.
StK vs x6 in the first-ever Halo 2 Event: OGRE 2’s Perspective
During the course of the season, Ogre 2’s individual prowess shined. He finished in the Top 8 four more times and won a second FFA title in Atlanta. This achievement is often overlooked only because his team went on to win every single tournament they attended outside of MLG Philadelphia, which was a team slayer-only Event. He finished 2005 as he did 2004, hoisting a National Championship trophy over his head. This season was the first demonstration of Ogre 2’s tremendous abilities translating to a new title. It would not be the last.
Ogre 2 and his squad showed no signs of slowing down in 2006. The Final Boss era began, as the newly renamed team made its presence known in resounding fashion, winning the first four tournaments of the year. At this point, since the 2004 Championship, they had won 16 of the last 17 Events. No one looked poised to prevent Final Boss from threepeating as Halo National Champions.
But things did not turn out as expected. Whether it was inner quarreling, a lack of focus, or simply being outmatched, Final Boss finally slipped, losing to Carbon in Orlando. Carbon’s momentum lifted them through the Playoffs and the National Championships, defeating Final Boss in three of the most highly competitive series in the League’s history. Despite the Season’s losses, Ogre 2’s contemporaries voted him the League’s best overall player for the second straight year.
Final Boss vs Carbon – 2006 National Championships – OGRE 2’s Perspective
After three straight losses, Final Boss opted for a change, removing Saiyan in favor of Strongside. Strongside’s individual slaying prowess meshed well with the Ogres and Walshy. They won Charlotte, 2007’s first Event, in dominating fashion. They proceded to win three of 2007’s five regular Season Events, never placing outside the Top 2.
Presumably because dominating one game wasn’t enough, Ogre 2 and Walshy decided to enter MLG’s inaugural Shadowrun Event, in Chicago. There they became the first and, to date, only players to win titles in two different games in a single tournament. The win catapulted them one Event above Ogre 1 to become the winningest players in MLG’s history.
StK vs Pure – Shadowrun Championship Match – Ogre 2’s Perspective
The playoffs in Orlando were a disappointment for Final Boss and Shoot to Kill (Ogre 2 resurrected the name for his Shadowrun team). They took 2nd to Str8 Rippin in the Halo 2 tournament and placed a disappointing 5th in Shadowrun. There were therefore some question marks going into the 2007 National Championship, with three legitimate teams vying for the top spot: Carbon, Str8 Rippin and Final Boss. And if Shadowrun was an afterthought for some, it was not for Ogre 2.
In the Shadowrun National Championships, StK nearly mounted a legendary comeback. After falling down 5-1 to Three Shot Killers, they fought all the way back to Game 11 before losing. But in Halo 2, Final Boss answered all critics in the most dramatic fashion possible: they took the tournament without dropping a single game. This feat had never before been achieved and has yet to be replicated in any Event, let alone a National Championship. Objectively, this record is MLG’s version of Joe Dimaggio’s gargantuan consecutive-games-with-a-hit mark, and may well never be achieved again.
Final Boss vs Carbon – 2007 Halo 2 National Championships – Ogre 2 Perspective – Total Perfection
As Halo 2 gave way to Halo 3, Ogre 2 exited 2007 as National Champion in his second straight Halo title. He also earned best overall player honors once again. Everyone expected big things from Final Boss in the Halo 3 era.
Ogre 2 did not disappoint fans at Meadowlands 08, the League’s first Halo 3 Event. After going into the Losers Bracket, Final Boss battled back to the Championship Match and defeated their practice partners, Team Classic, to take home the crown, just as they did in Halo 2. But as the Season—and the one to follow—would show, Final Boss no longer had the absolute formula for success that they’d had in Halo 2. This Meadowlands victory, perhaps more than any other, demonstrated Ogre 2’s unmatched capacity for adaptation. It was built on sheer experience and the ability to perform under pressure. Unbeknownst to many, though, it would be the last time he would step onto the winner’s podium for a long while.
After the Meadowlands, things took a downward turn. During the course of the next two years, Final Boss would not return to a Championship Match. Eventually, Ogre 1 retired, ending an era and leaving Ogre 2 as the only original member of Final Boss. Many wondered if things were finally over for the Ogre dynasty. But Ogre 2 did not go quietly. He shrugged off retirement rumors and amassed talent and chemistry around him. Finally, In 2010, Final Boss would make the team change that was the catalyst propelling them back towards greatness.
In the Season opener, Final Boss finished 3rd. After the Event, a team member, Totz, left for Triggers Down, leaving Pistola free, and Final Boss jumped at the opportunity to acquire the young talent. Pistola turned out to be just the spark they needed. In the Season’s second Event they finally returned to the Top 2, after a two-year break, losing 6-4 to Instinct in the Finals. After their win at a six-team warmup LAN, many fans and critics predicted that the resurgent Final Boss would triumph in Raleigh, at the season’s third Event. And that’s exactly what they got, as Final Boss toppled Instinct 6-3 in the Finals.
The next event was more of the same, as Final Boss defeated Triggers Down 6-2 in the Finals. Going into the Dallas National Championship, Final Boss had positioned themselves to become the first team in Halo 3 to threepeat. Ogre 2 had much more on the line, looking to become the only player ever to exit all three Halo titles as the National Champion and to become the only four-time title holder in League history. What happened next is already League history. Ogre 2 is once again atop the MLG world. Final Boss’s victory in Dallas was a dominant return to form, reminiscent of their performance in the final Halo 2 tournament. They lost only three games.
In the present, Ogre 2’s role is not of slaying giant, as it once was. Now he sees to the more objective work and navigates his team to victory through superior communication and experience, often shouldering the load in the late moments of games. Looking back on all of his accomplishments, Ogre 2’s most impressive feat may be his unparalleled ability to adapt to the needs of new games and new situations.
Ogre 2 By the Numbers
- Exited every Halo title in the franchise as National Champion.
- Won four out of seven National Championships (the only player to ever do so).
- Has 24 tournaments wins (three more than Walshy, the closest contender)
- Final Boss is the only team to threepeat in Halo 3.
- Seven straight All-Star appearances (tied with Walshy, most of all time)
- One of two players (with Walshy) to win a title in four games (Halo 1, 2, 3 and Shadowrun)
- From 2003-2008, placed in the Top 2 in 38 straight tournaments.
- Won 30 titles during the 38 tournament streak
- From 2004-2005, won 10 straight tournaments
- From 2005-2006, won nine straight tournaments
- Five streaks of at least three tournaments in a row
Putting the history of Ogre 2 into print is a bit sobering. He and Ogre 1 lorded over the Halo landscape for years. When Ogre 1 retired, things seemed bleak for Ogre 2. But it was at exactly this point that his truly legendary status began to emerge. Incredibly, he is still at the top of the Halo world, after seven Seasons. And, perhaps, he is not even done. Entering the Halo Reach era, Final Boss and Ogre 2 are once again the favorites. How long can he go on? One thing is certain: long after Ogre 2 has yielded the Halo throne for good, he will still be lauded as the most successful single player in the history of the game.