By Stalking Elmo

Player Name: Flamesword
Real Name: Mike Chaves
Birth Date: October 25th, 1989
Hometown: North Arlington, NJ
Current Team: Status Quo
First Event Attended: Meadowlands 2006
Number of Events Attended: 17
Best Placing: 2nd – Dallas 2010 National Championship (Status Quo)
Favorite Gametype: Sanctuary Territories
Controller Settings: Recon, 4 Sensitivity, No Vibration, Claw
Other Favorite Competitive Games: The entire Halo series
Hobbies: Lifting, hanging out with friends, movies, tv shows (Dexter, Californication, Entourage), music, collecting sneakers.


MLG: First of all, congratulations on getting 2nd Place at the MLG National Championship in Dallas. What was that like?

Flamesword: It was an amazing feeling. After placing basically 4th all year, it felt like a huge accomplishment to get over the curse. It also left an empty feeling in my stomach, wanting to win an Event even more now.

MLG: Just prior to Dallas, Status Quo took 7th Place in D.C. after consistent 4th Place finishes earlier in the Season. How did that affect your team’s preparation leading into the Championship?

Flamesword: I think that 7th Place finish is what gave us the drive to play better than we ever had. It allowed us to recognize our flaws and how to improve them before the Championship. It made us all mad as well, so we were going to come out firing at Dallas.

MLG: Was Tsquared coaching during your preparation between D.C. and Dallas, or did he come on as coach right before the Championship? Did he help with the flaw analysis phase after D.C.?

Flamesword: We sat down together and went over what we were doing wrong, but during the six-team LAN before the Championship, Tom sent us suggestions for improvement by text message.

MLG: Speaking of T2, what was it like having him as your coach? How much did that have to do with your finish in Dallas?

Flamesword: Tom was a great coach. He helped me out a ton. Usually I get zoned in during the game because I try to help my teammates all the time, and he was able to always keep my head in the game to allow me to make the right decisions. Also, having a top pro player as a coach just gives you more angles on how the game can be played. He was a part of our team’s success, but I would give our 2nd Place credit to Assault—he played some of the best Halo I have ever seen.

MLG: Was there anything in particular that Assault did?

Flamesword: He was just making big plays, controlling power weapons, staying alive when he needed to, and just dominating every 1v1 he got into [laughs].

MLG: After being knocked into the Losers Bracket by Final Boss in some very close games, Status Quo had a rough road ahead, facing Triggers Down and Instinct. What was going through your mind during your rally back through the Losers Bracket?

Flamesword: Two things: One was that I hadn’t beaten Ants (Totz) yet that year, and the second was that we hadn’t beaten Instinct either. So here is an individual player and a team that we hadn’t beaten all year. It was a little nerve-wracking, but I knew my team had it in them and we put everything on the line.

MLG: What was the most memorable game from that Event?

Flamesword: After we sealed Top 3 and broke our 4th Place curse, I knew we were going to be playing our best against Instinct. My most memorable game would have to be be Game 5 against TD. Clete (Assault) and I are known for just charging a lot and we never let go in that game against TD. Together we went +10. But getting 2nd Place with the same team from the beginning of the year was the best feeling.

MLG: Your team is the only top team besides Instinct to keep the same roster throughout 2010. It goes against the conventional wisdom that most rosters peak at their 1st Event together. Why do you think SQ bucked the trend and improved so much in Dallas?

Flamesword: We get along outside of the game really well. We’re the team that you’ll see arguing for 15 minutes at the most at a LAN and then completely joking around minutes later, as opposed to teams who over-analyze things too much. Halo is a hobby for the four of us. We don’t really go over strategies—we just play the game our own individual ways and it works for us. So having a good atmosphere outside of the game will always improve your in-game performance.

MLG: What do you think made the difference between the 2009 SQ and the 2010 SQ? You spent 2009 hovering around 7th Place, but then improved to 4th for most of 2010 and then closed out the Season and Halo 3 itself with a 2nd Place finish, in spite of much harder competition. Was it a matter of getting used to the pressure of being on the Main Stage? Chemistry of the 2010 lineup? Something else?

Flamesword: It was definitely the chemistry of our 2010 lineup. We just love hanging out with each other and as soon as we started playing we clicked. Everyone brought something to the team, either in the game or out. Having the right mix just leads to success.

MLG: Status Quo members won six of the 2010 Stride® Pros’ Choice Awards. Any surprises there?

Flamesword: Yeah, Ace didn’t win any [laughs]. In my opinion, he should have been nominated into the Top 3 for Best Overall Player or even won it. He does the most for a team that I have ever seen. Just look at his stat sheet across the year; he leads in many different categories. I was happy for Clete (Assault) as well, since he finally got the respect from the top players that he deserves. Also, to Ian (Enable) for being a sneaky power weapon controller [laughs].

MLG: [Laughs] Enable is the new T2.

Flamesword: Haha, yeah. He just flanks and rips teams apart. Assault is usually right there with me as we run straight lines the entire game and don’t let go of the left analog stick. Just hold forward is our motto [laughs].

MLG: Assault cleaned up with the Pros’ Choice Awards: Most Underrated Player, Best Support Player, Best Breakout Player. Did you know he was going to be such a beast when you picked him up for 2010?

Flamesword: Absolutely not [laughs]. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when the team picked him up, but I knew he wouldn’t let us down. The decision was between him and Gilkey at the start of the year, so it was a tossup, but I’m happy we made the right choice.

MLG: So how’s it going in Reach so far? Status Quo are apparently sticking together. Do you guys like the game?

Flamesword: Reach is a fun and interesting game. I still enjoy Halo 3 more as I felt the game was finally coming alive, but with time I can see MLG making some really good Game Types and maps for Reach to make it one of the best Halos ever.

MLG: Has your team’s chemistry carried over?

Flamesword: Our chemistry has definitely improved. We got to 1st on GameBattles and then I took a ten day break and we fell to 3rd, but our chemistry still feels the same.

MLG: What do you think about MLG’s current settings and Game Types? Do you have a favorite so far?

Flamesword: The Game Types are all right, but I can see them getting a lot better. There are days when I enjoy Sprint as a loadout, but then there are days when I want to rip my hair out. My favorite Game Type is Sanctuary Territories. You can get a high kill count in that game if you have the right setup and it’s fun to spawn trap.

MLG: Looking at the Top 16, there’s some new blood in the top ranks. Do any new faces stand out to you?

Flamesword: Haha, not yet. I haven’t really kept up with that too much lately. I’ve been more focused on just my team as it’s a new game and I want us to be the best team out there.

MLG: What have you been up to in the off-season? Any other games you’ve been playing in your spare time?

Flamesword: Just Reach for me. I’ve just been relaxing. School is over so I’m just catching a break. I recently spent a few days in Orlando and now I’m in Chicago hanging out with everyone at the LAN Network for ten days. It’s kind of my second home [laughs]. Everyone has a great time when they visit. I just saw the gaming house yesterday; the place is amazing.

MLG: How do you balance school with Halo practice?

Flamesword: Less sleep [laughs]. It feels normal to me. I wouldn’t be able to game all day; I need other things to occupy me in the day.

MLG: Speaking of time management and discipline, in order to reach the top of any field (including professional Halo), you need consistent hard work and dedication. What are some ways you keep the motivation high, even when you may not feel like practicing at the moment? I’d imagine that it takes a lot of time to get up to your level and to stay there, and it might start to feel like work at times.

Flamesword: I just make up a schedule of things I have to accomplish in the day. I make sure that playing Halo never feels like a work environment. I enjoy playing the game so I don’t want it to get to the point where it can stress me out.

MLG: This wraps up our interview. Thanks so much, Flamesword, for taking the time to do this. Any last words?

Flamesword: Shout out to my team, our new coach Tyler, MLG’s sponsors, the community and fans, the Pennacchio family, Rob, Kwame, Side for showing me how to play the game, and anyone else I forgot. Deuces!

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