MLG Chicago was a tournament that brought about great changes on the pro Halo 2 scene. After a series of major upsets, players were traded, Top 8 teams were disbanded, and fresh faces staked their claim on the Top 4?a place previously reserved for a virtually unchanging cast of characters who had remained dominant for most of the season. Among the greatest stories of the fateful event was Shook On3 Gaming, who rose high above expectations and toppled Str8 Rippin on their way to a stunning 4th place finish, emerging as a serious threat to the top ranks. The team?s positively electrifying presence whipped the crowd into a frenzy during their fateful match against the (now) third-ranked team and won them an army of new fans, catapulting the energy and anticipation leading into MLG?s final Regular Season stop in Orlando. MLG took some time to sit down with the team and get their take on the events that led to their new position in the spotlight of pro-gaming and their hopes for further progression through the league ranks.
MLG: First of all, congratulations on your Top 4 finish in Chicago.
Vegetto: Thank you, it was hard.
MLG: Before diving into your Chicago performance, could you tell us about the history of your team?
Shook On3: Well, I have been in the MLG tournament scene since the very first tournament, changing up teams a lot through the first season and trying to find that right team. I met Pyrocy in St. Louis after his team beat him, and it turned out we lived 10 minutes away from each other. So we teamed for Atlanta, got 9-12, and when we got back home we heard that H2K broke up. I had Lightking on my Friends List, so I got in a party with him, and got Jake (Pyrocy) in there. Lightking was pumped about it (he?s seen my montages), so he was a noob that was blowing up (laughs). He got Vegetto in there, and then the magic happened. We teamed for Chicago and got Top 8, and we?ve been a team ever since.
When Shook On3 Gaming took out Str8 Rippin in Chicago, the crowd knew they were witnessing something special, but ShooK and Vegetto were sure to make it really clear–just in case.
MLG: Right. Next to FB, you guys have had the same roster for the longest on the tour.
Pyrocy: We should?ve placed 5/6th.
Shook On3: Right, but we played the wrong gametypes. We were beating Legendz, and Anakin came over and said, ?What are you doing? You guys are playing the wrong gametype.? Vash got up and was like, ?Yessss!? We ended up losing.
MLG: You guys have placed around Top 8 for some time now. What were your expectations going into Chicago?
Vegetto: Top 8.
MLG: What did your preparation for Chicago look like?
Pyrocy: Me and Jesse (Shook) started ?bootcamp? up.
Shook On3: I bought this old chair for like 10 bucks, and Jake plays in it all the time now. During the bootcamp we played Round 2 and Round 3 at least twice a day for about 10 days straight.
Pyrocy: We did not doubt losing to Str8 in Chicago, but Vegetto wouldn?t let losing be an option.
Shook On3: Yeah, Vegetto is a huge motivator.
?Our teamshot on the whole is amazing though. When we are on, and we all start shooting together, there?s literally nothing you can do.? ~Shook On3
MLG: Who were you playing against during this bootcamp?
Shook On3: Online Warriors, a.k.a. TD.
Vegetto: We scrimmed bad kids most of the time, like TD.
Shook On3: Those kids are amazing online.
Pyrocy: Yeah, we lost just about every game to them.
Shook On3: It really helped our teamwork though I think, and when we played them in the Second Round, we 3-1?d them fairly easily, which was huge for us because they were coming off a Top 5 performance.
Vegetto: But they?re a really good team and should stay together.
Shook On3: We also played XiT a ton. I remember one night we only won like one out of 15 games.
Pyrocy: Chicago was our first tourney where we actually focused 100 percent.
Shook On3: We?ve always had that one ?excuse,? which was really annoying. We got rid of all distractions for Chicago, and it really paid off. I think the biggest thing we did for Chicago was record all our games. We brought the videos to the hotel and watched gameplay.
MLG: Changing gears; in general, how would you describe your play style, and what roles do your members play?
From left: Pyrocy, Lightking and Vegetto.
Vegetto: Well, Lightking is a four-shotting machine, Pyrocy is a rushing dominator, and Shook is a double shooting destroyer.
Shook On3: Vegetto is by far the guy who came up the most clutch, I?ll say that for him. He gets us so pumped up for matches, and brings that fire that we need.
MLG: What about team play style?
Shook On3: Lightking and Pyrocy are the rushers/aggressors. Marc (Vegetto) and I fall in more with the support/teamshooting. Our teamshot on the whole is amazing though. When we are on, and we all start shooting together, there?s literally nothing you can do. I think the biggest thing that helped us was playing Final Boss so much on LAN. I remember in the MLG Championships 2005, in our Midship King game against them, all they would do was shoot you twice and let you go. When you would chase to finish the kill, they always had someone there to help. They all had over 30 assists in that game. We really focused on that, and I?d say that?s helped us the most. We really focus on team shooting.
?We knew we could win–didn?t think anything else. We went into Chicago with no doubt that we wouldn?t give them an upset.? ~Pyrocy
Vegetto: Yeah, I love team shooting, and I hate getting into 1v1 battles. I prefer to double-team.
Pyrocy: We also play amazingly off the crowd. Once Vegetto sticks someone and the crowd goes? we?re unstoppable.
Vegetto: Yeah, the crowd really helps me. I get a crowd around me and I just turn into an Ogre.
MLG: Ah, there was certainly a fan presence in your series against Str8 in Chicago. What were you expecting to take away from this series?
Pyrocy: We knew we could win–didn?t think anything else. We went into Chicago with no doubt that we wouldn?t give them an upset.
Vegetto: Match of the year. I wanted to 3-0 them.
Shook On3: We played them in Dallas, and after Game 1 Flag, we found their weakness as a team. We kind of exploited that in Chicago. I think that?s the main reason we won.
Pyrocy: We knew how they played and knew what needed to be done to win.
?Well, we?ll say this: I?m that ?neighborhood kid? who stepped up and owned T2.? ~Vegetto
MLG: This weakness being? Or would you rather not say it?
Shook On3: I’ll keep it under the tables. Can?t let everyone know how to beat the number-three team.
MLG: Fair enough. Well, your team did fall behind 2 – 0 in the series. What were you thinking at that point, and what (if anything) did you do to regroup between games 2 and 3?
Shook On3: I can?t keep a grin off my face. Marc stepped up, that?s all. He did stuff that took our minds away from being down 2-0, and he made it seem like we were on top 2-0. He got the crowd behind us.
Pyrocy: I stood up? T2 thought he was special.
Shook On3: They started going nuts, and Marc shut them up. Someone flipped the switch and we got this crazy momentum and took it. I remember looking around after the incidents between Games 2 and 3. The crowd kept getting bigger and bigger. I know for a fact that one kid put down his controller from playing a real Championship Bracket game just to come over and watch the series.
Vegetto: Yeah, I guess my ” talking” took our minds off of almost getting 3-0?d.
MLG: To what (else) do you attribute your comeback? Was it an issue of your team’s strength in the gametypes? Your team was 2 – 7 in the tournament on Warlock and Lockout (Games 1 & 2), but 10 – 2 on Sanctuary and Midship (Games 3-5), with your only losses on those maps coming against Carbon.
Shook On3: Well, we play Sanctuary like no other. We practiced it a lot. Also, when we set up bootcamp, we played all the gametypes on Midship because that?s the most played map.
Vegetto: We destroy on Sanctuary. I remember one game where three of us spawn-killed an entire team for like 60 seconds.
Shook On3: That was Ra4; I have it on video. We used to screw with teams to practice our teamwork. I would take the flag all the way back to our base and these three would work on spawn-killing them. We got really good at that on Sanctuary, and we really embarrassed a Top 8 team online once.
Vegetto: Most of all, timing the sniper makes us so strong. We?re really on top of that.
?I remember we had conversations about that team in the pregame lobby; about how much we thought they were going to destroy. Little did we know we were going to step up and beat them.? ~Shook On3
MLG: Any comments on your celebration after beating Str8?
Shook On3: When Marc took his shirt off and started running around, I felt like we just won the Super Bowl. It was so sweet. You only get feelings like that so many times in your life, and USA filmed it all, which makes it that much better.
Vegetto: Well, we?ll say this: I?m that ?neighborhood kid? who stepped up and owned T2.
MLG: Are there any other Chicago matches you would like to highlight?
Pyrocy: 3-1?ing eX.
Shook On3: I remember we had conversations about that team in the pregame lobby; about how much we thought they were going to destroy. Little did we know we were going to step up and beat them.
Tsquared and Vegetto match wits during their incredibly heated match at MLG Chicago.
MLG: Yeah, they were really confident after bootcamping with Carbon.
Shook On3: That?s one thing we lack–we don?t get to LAN before tournaments.
Pyrocy: We keep trying, but never can. Once we pick up controllers though we click.
MLG: It’s kind of ironic actually; all the teams that bootcamp seem to perform below their expectations at the next event. SV and Str8 in Anaheim, Carbon and eX in Chicago.
Shook On3: Yeah, I know. I think that?s just because they only boot with one team, and they get too used to that team?s play style.
Pyrocy: When you play online, you?re exposed to everything, and must adapt to different types of teams.
MLG: What are your expectations for Orlando?
Shook On3: Honestly, I have no expectations. Lightking has been in Puerto Rico for two weeks. We have no practice. And Lightking has been distracted a lot with ?older women?. He?s quite the ladies? man now.
MLG: What about for the rest of the season? Where do you see yourself placing in Las Vegas?
Vegetto: Top 2.
Shook On3: Top 3.
Vegetto: No, Top 2! I need a new car. The new Camaro is coming out soon, so we need 2nd.
Pyrocy: I think the biggest upset has yet to happen.
Shook On3: Damn, better make it first then–not kidding. Agreed, teammates?
Shook On3: Let these kids know we?re comin?.<
MLG: Any parting thoughts?
Vegetto: I love my fans; they make me who I am. Shout out to Mrs. Vegetto.
Shook On3: I love my fans way more? The crowd is what makes us happen. Shout outs to all the Nebraska kids that came to Chicago.
Pyrocy: I love Wilshwine.
Shook On3: I love Chillmaster.
MLG: Thank you very much for the interview, and best of luck in Orlando.
ShooK On3 Gaming creates an atmosphere around pro gaming that many have only seen in professional athletic competitions.