After a relatively disappointing finish at the 2008 MLG Pro Circuit season opener in the Meadowlands, Str8 Rippin bounced back with a vengeance in San Diego, winning their first tournament since Orlando 2007. The team looked impressive throughout the entire weekend, dropping only one game on their way to first place, and banking a hefty $20,000 in the process. In light of their overwhelming success, we sat down with ElamiteWarrior to discuss San Diego, his practice habits, and the awesomeness of Neighbor’s sniper rifle.

MLG: Congratulations to you and the rest of Str8 Rippin on an amazing performance in San Diego. Tell us a little about how it felt to win your first tournament in Halo 3?

ElamiteWarrior: It felt amazing! We were really disappointed after Meadowlands because we knew we could do better, so we were determined to not let it happen again in San Diego. We practiced hard, had a pre-event LAN with Influence, and it was awesome to see all of our hard work pay off.

MLG: Str8 Rippin came into Meadowlands with the first seed, and it’s safe to say that you were extremely confident. One could argue that you were even a little too confident. After blowing San Diego out of the water and regaining your first place seed, how are you going to stay humble for MLG Orlando?

ElamiteWarrior: I think that the best way to stay humble is to remain focused. As we proved in San Diego, we play our best when we’re the underdogs. So as long as we can keep that mindset throughout the season, regardless of rank or seed, we’ll do really well.

A well deserved celebration.

MLG: In San Diego, we saw the Str8 Rippin that everyone was expecting to see at MLG Meadowlands. What do you think was the biggest attribute to your performance this time around?

ElamiteWarrior: In Meadowlands, our team work was great, but I think we relied on it a little too much. This time around, our team work was still amazing, but we all stepped up our game individually. On top of that, we revised a bunch of our strategies, and went over specific gametypes that we felt might give us some trouble in San Diego.

MLG: What was the one specific thing you worked on the most?

ElamiteWarrior: We all agreed as a team that we were playing too passively. In Halo 3, that type of play-style doesn’t work so well. We definitely worked on being much more aggressive, rushing as a team, and breaking down setups on the fly.

MLG: In Str8’s interview with Sundance right after winning the event, Tsquared said that you guys practiced a lot more in preparation for the event. Exactly how much practice did he mean?

ElamiteWarrior: In the last two weeks before San Diego, I was playing about 6-8+ hours a day just trying to prepare myself from home. Then we had the LAN with Influence, where we would play 12-14+ hours a day. So it’s safe to say that we put in more hours heading into San Diego than we have for any other tournament.

MLG: So tell us about your personal practice methods from home. Do you try to start up a custom, or do you just jump into the MLG playlist?

ElamiteWarrior: A little bit of both actually. Sometimes I’ll try to start a custom, and sometimes I’ll just jump into the playlist. As a piece of advice though, in most cases, how you practice is really not that important. The important thing is just to practice, regardless of what you’re playing. Just simply having the controller in your hands will help you stay fresh.

Neighbor speaks his mind.

MLG: One last question on practice – What are you guys doing this time around to prepare for Orlando?

ElamiteWarrior: We’re already setting up a LAN with Carbon down at Legit’s condo in Florida. He has an awesome place right near the venue, and since the tournament is so close, we’re trying to set that up as soon as possible. Aside from that though, I’m actually flying up to Neighbor’s house to start practicing today. We’re also going to hit up a local tournament while I’m up there.

MLG: Speaking of Neighbor, let’s talk about his performance at the event. At MLG Meadowlands, it looked as though Tsquared had the sniper rifle throughout the majority of the event. This time around though, it seemed like every time I looked at Neighbor’s screen, he had a sniper in his hands. Was this something you planned for before the event?

ElamiteWarrior: We always knew that he was a great sniper, but at the Influence LAN, we realized that he is probably the best sniper in Halo 3 right now. So I told him that I wasn’t even going to pick up the sniper unless I absolutely had to. Every time I would see the sniper spawn, I would look to see how far away he was because I knew the team would be much safer with him backing us up, rather than myself.

MLG: I watched every single series that Str8 played, and there is little doubt in my mind that he is probably the best sniper in Halo 3 at the moment. But as much as I’d like to go on about Neighbor, we have to move on. For the last part of the interview, let’s touch on a variety of random subjects. First off, now that you’ve had xXx as a coach for two consecutive events, how is he working out for you?

This is how Elamite spends his free time.

ElamiteWarrior: He’s an amazing coach. It takes coaches awhile to learn how their team plays, so Meadowlands was just an adjustment for him. In San Diego, he knew exactly what needed to be done, and kept us on track at all times. I think it’s safe to say that we got more power weapons/power ups than any other team in the tournament. It’s awesome to think that this is only the beginning.

MLG: Alright – So even though Instinct were the only team to take a map away from you, who do you think was tougher to play: Instinct or Triggers Down?

ElamiteWarrior: It sounds weird, because Instinct did take a map from us, but I have to go with Triggers Down. The reason I say that is that we’ve played Instinct before, and even LAN’d with them before MLG Meadowlands, so we knew what to expect. We had no clue how to play Triggers Down, and by having no way to predict their movements and play-style, it made doing so extremely tough.

MLG: Final Boss – What’s your take on their performance in San Diego?

ElamiteWarrior: I think they just simply had an off-tournament – Kind of like us in Meadowlands. I know a lot of teams will be gunning for them now, but then again, a lot of teams will be gunning for us too. I definitely think they’re better than that, and can see them bouncing back from this with no problem.

MLG: Who was the best individual talent you saw in San Diego? (And you can’t pick anyone from Str8 Rippin!)

ElamiteWarrior: Short answer, or long answer?

MLG: Short.

ElamiteWarrior: Hysteria

Tsquared shares a moment with Sundance.

MLG: Good choice! Of the many fringe teams out there, who do you think poses he biggest threat in Orlando?

ElamiteWarrior: Breaking Point.

MLG: Why do you say that?

ElamiteWarrior: Because Ace and Chig are amazing!

MLG: Agreed, I witnessed Ace pulling off some amazing stuff against Final Boss on the Main Stage. Moving on to my last question though, what advice would give to someone out there that wants to become the next ElamiteWarrior?

ElamiteWarrior: Basically, just do what I did. Start going to tournaments and getting your name out there in any way you can. Practice hard, watch lots of VoD, and most importantly, PLAY!

MLG: You heard it here first folks! Thanks for your time Elamite, and best of luck to you and the rest of Str8 Rippin in Orlando!