Enigma6 has tasted both the sweetness of victory and the bitter taste of defeat this season, but they seem to be catching fire at just the right time. They recently handed reigning Halo world champions Counter Logic Gaming their first loss since the X Games Invitational last season, and we had a chance to chat with them about the current season and their big win.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Tell me a little bit about Enigma6. How did you come together as a team, and how did you join the Enigma6 organization?
Carlos "Cratos" Ayala: Two days after [Halo World Championship 2016], I left my old team after getting second place. I wanted to team with Ryan "Shooter" Sondhi and I really wanted to snag Jesse "bubu dubu" Moeller. I knew that Cuyler "Huke" Garland was going to be left without a team, so I reached out to him and that is how the team came to be.
Jesse "bubu dubu" Moeller: Huke played for Enigma6 in Call of Duty for a short period of time before he was told he could not compete due to his age, so he had a contact within the organization. We reached out to [Enigma6] about playing for them and they loved the idea.
Nick, you've been coaching Enigma6 for the season. How did you get involved with these guys?
Nick "Showtime" Laskaras: I've known Cratos and Shooter for many years because I used to team with them for the previous Halo games. Then I quit for a while due to personal responsibilities. I was really good friends with Cratos and they needed a coach, so he reached out to me after PAX East when they didn't do so well and asked me to coach. It was an incredible opportunity so I took it.
Cratos, bubu dubu, what has Showtime brought to the table as a coach that you did not have beforehand?
Cratos: Consistency. We never really had a coach, especially one who put in the time like this. It's good to have one of your best friends behind you, either lightening up the mood because it gets pretty serious sometimes, or controlling our emotions.
bubu dubu: He keeps our mentality in line while in a series, especially after a loss, and is a master at timing weapons and powerups.
I know the three of you moved into the house together shortly before the season began. How beneficial has it been to be in the same house during practices and then during your HCS: Pro League matches?
bubu dubu: Being able to play from the same house has been huge for my focus. I used to share a room with my two brothers, which could prove to be a bit distracting at times. It wasn't a huge deal; they're my brothers, I understand. It's just nice to be able to focus on the game and getting better as a team.
Enigma6 is currently sitting at 5-3, and has had some pretty significant ups and downs along the way. What has this season been like for you personally?
Cratos: It has definitely had its share of ups and downs. For me, personally, coming in last place at the PAX East Invitational was the lowest of the low for my career. Our performance that weekend was honestly just embarrassing. Then, in our next tournament, we came out and were clearly the best team playing. Getting swept by Team Allegiance was another hard blow for me and it set [us] back a lot. Had we not been swept we would be in a much better spot in the standings. Things have settled down since then, though, and we are playing really good Halo. I feel like we are the best team in the world right now.
What has caused you to get into a rhythm? What has been the difference-maker?
bubu dubu: Communication has been a huge part of that. We noticed that when we are losing nobody is listening to each other. Nobody is responding to one another. We just needed to clean that up.
Cratos: Yeah, we noticed that when we are losing we just try to talk over each other, and it wasn't working. The past couple of weeks we fixed the problem and we are playing dominant Halo now.
Showtime, communication is a pivotal aspect of what you bring to the team as a coach. How have you seen this play out throughout the season?
Showtime: Small talk and communication in general are so huge when it comes to competitive Halo. Furthermore, whether they like to admit it or not, attitudes are such a huge aspect of this team. They can get down when they lose a game or two and when their attitudes are bad then they have no chance of winning. I just really try to keep them positive; when we can stay positive and keep our communication up, we are the best in the game and that shows. I just try to remind these guys to just have fun with it.
I want to ask you guys about the most recent two weeks of the season. In Week 3, you were swept by CLG and Team Liquid took you to Game 5. How did you feel at the end of that week?
Cratos: That CLG series was probably the most frustrating series. We came out hot; we were destroying them Game 1. Then they had the connection issues that completely changed the series. We were two minutes away from beating them in Game 1 and that disconnection changed everything. We tried telling ourselves that we weren't going to let it affect us, but it totally did. They had a chance to talk about how they wanted to readjust, and that put things back in their favor. We lost Game 1 and that completely stopped our momentum. That was just the most frustrating series ever. It would have been a lot closer had that not happened. I'm not saying that we would have won [the series], but we would have definitely taken Game 1 and put up more of a fight. Against Liquid, even though we went to Game 5, I felt like we were always in control.
Showtime: I wasn't worried about the Liquid series, to be honest. Even though the games were close, I knew the guys were confident and were going to close it out. I'm usually pretty blunt about most things, and I would say that this season we have been playing pretty average up until last weekend. That was when we got over the hump and now I would say we are playing the best Halo we ever have.
You mentioned that you guys were really starting to click, which was perfect timing going into Week 4. You had OpTic Gaming Day 1, and beat them 3-1, and then you played the best team in the world, Counter Logic Gaming on Day 2. Had Week 3 been somewhat of a wakeup call for you?
Cratos: Three weeks ago, all the other pro teams got together and agreed not to scrim against us anymore to not give us practice. We basically only practiced against the top amateur teams every night.
bubu dubu: And EG scrimmed us one night.
Cratos: That's right. So we didn't get very good practice for a little while there and that was an extremely stressful time for us. On top of us underperforming, we had no way of practicing and that was tough for us. We were playing pretty poorly and mentally knew that this was not going to work out if there was no way for us to practice.
Showtime: This past week before we played OpTic and CLG, other teams began to scrim us again and that was definitely our best week of practice and that showed during our Pro League matches.
It definitely showed. Day 1, you saw Team EnVyUs push CLG to Game 5. What was going through your minds when you saw that?
Cratos: I was pretty surprised. I knew nV [EnVyUs] was good, and they played really well. It didn't really change the way I viewed CLG though, I just think nV should have won that series.
Did seeing nV and CLG go to Game 5 give you a boost of confidence?
Cratos: Not me personally, no. It happens in best-of-fives.
bubu dubu: I never really viewed CLG as unbeatable. Throughout my whole H5 career I've played them to pretty close series, so I was really happy to get the win. I didn't see them as unbeatable like a lot of other players do.
Showtime: I was really impressed with nV in that series; I think they definitely should have won it. But, like the guys said, the thing I like about this team is that we don't think anyone is untouchable and we honestly think that we are the best team and we proved that this weekend. That really helps our morale.
Let's look at that CLG series a little more carefully. You start off by taking Game 1, Eden Strongholds, by a landslide: 100-32. That's a big way to start things off.
Cratos: We were confident on that map, so closing out Game 1 was hype. We felt great heading into the rest of the series.
You're going blow for blow here with the first place team in North America, the reigning Halo World Champions. They haven't lost a series since the X Games last year. They haven't even lost a scrim since then, much less a competitive series. After you take Game 1, they respond with a statement win of their own on The Rig Slayer. Did your confidence ever falter?
bubu dubu: I would say we brushed off the loss pretty well. We were actually down really big in that game and clawed our way back into it a little bit, so we just moved on after that like nothing happened.
Cratos: Before the game was even over, we knew we needed to move on. We knew that The Rig Slayer was their best map and they were playing it really well that night; there wasn't much we could really do.
You won Game 3 and found yourselves one game away from taking down CLG. The Rig Strongholds was the next map, and we have seen CLG struggle on that game type this season.
Cratos: The veto phase worked out so that we ended out avoiding each others' strongest game types for games three through five. They didn't play us on our best at the end, and we didn't play them on theirs.
Showtime: Before each series we scout the teams pretty well and it turned out that neither of us wanted to veto that game type out.
Game 4 was just as bad of a landslide as Game 1, and you won 100-32. Was there ever a moment when you looked at yourselves and said, "Guys, we just took down CLG. It wasn't just a scrim, this one mattered"?
Cratos: Toward the end I got really excited. We were getting destroyed at the beginning of that game.
bubu dubu: Yeah, we were down 25-0.
Cratos: Yeah. It all started with Shooter when he turned on Lethul pretty badly. Shooter is a pretty calm guy and as soon as he did that he went nuts, which fired us up. We all stepped it up after that and went ballistic.
Showtime: As soon as the series was over we went nuts and enjoyed the moment.
Cratos: I could even hear Huke's family in the background going nuts!
So you're now 5-3 in the Pro League and within striking distance of the top. EnVyUs showed the world that CLG is human, but you showed the world that they bleed. Not many other teams can say that. What does the rest of the season look like?
Cratos: Well, we knew that most teams were likely going to lose to CLG twice so if we lost to them it would not be as big of a deal, but if we could beat them? That would be nuts. We have our important matches now: nV, Renegades and EG. We need to be able to beat them and not stumble against the bottom half teams for our shot at the summer finals.
You play Team Liquid again, and they just got their first win of the season. Are you going to be thinking about how they took you to Game 5 at all?
Showtime: We definitely don't want to overlook any team. This week we are preparing and not just leaning back. This week is huge for us because if we go 2-0 we basically lock up top-four for the season and get to the Summer Finals.
Cratos: Beating CLG was nice, but we are taking our practice to another level now. We are all flying out to Michigan this week thanks to our incredible organization to bootcamp side-by-side and play the Pro League matches together.
Is there anything else you guys want to share? Any thanks you want to give?
bubu dubu: I just wanted to say that although we beat CLG we are going to stay humble and hungry. We aren't going to let up and we aren't going to let this get to our heads. We want this win more than anything. That's all that matters to us.
Cratos: I completely agree. Beating CLG was great, but our goal is to win the Summer Finals. Until then we are not going to be happy.
Showtime: Like Cratos said earlier, the matches we have coming up are a really big deal. Beating CLG was great but the next few matches determine everything for us this season. They weigh so much more. Huge shoutout to Chris, the owner of Enigma6! He treats us so well. Anything we need, he takes care of. He's setting up this bootcamp for us this weekend and is the best.
bubu dubu: They go above and beyond for everything.
Cratos. I wanted to shout them out too, they make all of this possible. They make Halo our full-time job and treat us like professional athletes, not just Halo players.
bubu dubu: And a big shoutout to my mom, dad, and siblings! They are super supportive! They watch all my stuff and are my biggest fans! I couldn't do this without them.