To this day, I'll never forget playing "Halo 1," on XB Connect, in my grungy college dorm, when a dude named LurkDaddy introduced me to the power of the sniper rifle.
As the self-proclaimed pistol extraordinaire and local "Halo" champ, I was in need of some serious humbling. LurkDaddy delivered. I don't even think I ever saw him. And, after his 38 kill massacre on Blood Gulch (32 head shots), I was a believer for life. It was like the first time I heard the Beatles.
Let's get to the point -- the sniper is hands down the most exciting weapon in the game.
MLG PRO SITDOWNS
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When someone drops me with a shotty to the face, I normally call that person a pansy for hiding around the corner, in the dark, clearly terrified of actually having to aim or use any skills whatsoever. Ditto with the rockets. I imagine some 5-year-old on the other end who couldn't shoot water from the beach.
When someone lights me up with a needler, I just sigh and swear to myself I'll never stoop that low. "Halo 1" and "Halo 2" vets, I know you are with me. After years of needle worthlessness, learning to use that weapon now would be like my grandfather learning to use Tivo. For no good reason, it ain't gunna happen.
When someone drops me with a BR four shot, it grabs my attention. I guess. But it's not as nasty as the good ole' pistol 3 and out. The four shot still feels slow. Maybe I'm old school.
Here's the "but."
When someone drops me from across the map with one snipe to the grill, that's impressive. When I'm scurrying around in a ghost and my head gets taken off, I'll take my hat off, too. When I sneak up on a sniper who 360 no-scopes my nose, I'm going to stand up and yell "BS!" to protect my ego, but I'm secretly going to respect the hell out of that sniper!
I know a lot of you are with me. And so is MLG. When has Neighbor ever picked up a rifle without Puckett immediately jumping to that screen on-air? And who could forget Snipedown in Dallas? Pit Slayer, down big, he almost single handedly mounted a comeback on Triggers Down with the most impressive display of clutch sniping seen in tournament play.
It may have been that finish alone that cemented his position on top of the sharp shooters' podium, where he took home the Pro's Choice Award for Top Sniper in 2008.
LurkDaddy, wherever you are, this one goes out to you.
And without further ado, we bring to you ... Snipedown.
TheBuckStuff: Break down the name Snipedown.
Snipedown: I made the gamertag in seventh grade. I was in English class with a friend, and we were trying to think of cool gamertags. I always liked sniping in "Halo 1" and 2, so I went with Snipedown.
TBS: Why Snipedown, not Snipeup, Snipeleft?
Snipedown: Well, I wanted Snipe-own, but it didn't sound good, so I went with Snipe-down.
TBS: And what makes you so awesome of a sniper?
Snipedown: I have really good hand-eye coordination. I really pride myself on that. I think I have very quick reaction time as well.
TBS: When did you realize you were a sniping guru?
Snipedown: I was always known for sniping, but I never really thought about it until "Halo 3." I certainly never thought I was a top-notch sniper. I always thought I was pretty good, above average. But when "Halo 3" came out, I started to realize.
TBS: My buddy BZ thinks he's God's gift to the snipers, but we always bust on him because he sits up on his little perch and never gets his hands dirty. Do you catch flack from your teammates for that as well?
Snipedown: (Laughs) Not really. I push up a lot. I'm not one to lie back in the base. I like to move around and get into battle.
TBS: Hysteria says he likes to bust on you for not ever doing objective. Thoughts?
Snipedown: Whatever. I could just bring up last year's placings. Or maybe let him know how I'm going to do better than him this season as well.
TBS: Fighting words! (Laughs) Let's get back to last season. You started off a bit of a nomad, jumping from team to team. Why?
Snipedown: I couldn't seem to find a good team to be on from the start. Better teams kept trying to pick me up, and as a young player I couldn't turn that down. I was looking for the best. I thought I found it with Triggers Down, but that didn't work out.
TBS: You've managed to stick with Str8 Rippin through the off-season. Str8 happens to be the only squad in the Top 16 to avoid roster changes. What are the advantages to that?
Snipedown: Definitely getting to know your teammates better, further developing teamwork. We hang out a lot. Over the break, we met up three or four times and had a lot of fun. At first, it was fun going from team to team, and I enjoyed trying to do better every time I left a team, but I'm having a great time with Str8.
TBS: What do you like most about your current squad?
Snipedown: We're all different and we all bring different things to the table. But we work well together. Brian and Tom work together really well and me and Kyle work together really well. Even outside of "Halo" we have a great time. I would consider Kyle, Tom and Brian to be my best friends.
TBS: Who on this squad is throwing together the strats?
Snipedown: I'm definitely not doing it! Definitely not the strategist ... that's Kyle and Tom. Brian loves to chip in, but Kyle and Tom make the strats. It takes a lot of smarts. It's amazing ... I can't even see what they are talking about until we play it out.
TBS: Break it down for us noobs. When you get the sniper, say, on Narrows CTF, your first gametype in Meadowlands, what are you looking for?
Snipedown: I'm just looking to put one shot on every person I see. I'm not even looking for the head shot or waiting for the guy to show his head. If I can get one shot on someone, regardless of the map, my teammates can finish them off.
TBS: As the Master Sniper, how would you grade your teammates' sniping skills?
Snipedown: They are all good, no doubt. Kyle is as good as me when he's on fire. Tom is a good sniper. And Brian just goes off randomly. He'll drop three headshots then four straight misses.
TBS: What about scouting, you know, breaking down other teams' play? What do you look for?
Snipedown: Mostly play style. If it's an aggressive team, we'll try to be more aggressive and push them back. If it's a passive team, we'll play more passive and try to catch them off guard. Every team has a play style, so combating that style is our main focus.
TBS: Ok, you're a ridiculous sniper, so you must have seen the movie Enemy at the Gates, right?
TBS: Well, okay, that backfired. But let me break it down. A Russian sniper is taking out Germans left and right, so the Germans hire their own stud sniper to find the Russian. It's the ultimate snipefest, one on one, each trying to out-smart the other. I'm wondering if this ever happens to you, and who your rival sniper would be?
Snipedown: Sure. I'd say Neighbor or Hysteria. Everyone always makes the comparisons between us. Before I was pro, I really looked up to Neighbor. He was so fun to watch in "Halo 2" and he's still great to watch.
TBS: And now you are being compared to him! Have you gotten to know him at all?
Snipedown: Yeah, it's funny because everyone thinks we are these arch enemies, but we actually get along very well.
TBS: I interviewed Hysteria last week, and he gave me three questions to ask you. The first, who is the best sniper -- Neighbor, Hysteria or Snipedown?
Snipedown: I am. The Pro Choice Awards gave me that honor! (Laughs) The award was a plus. I think I'm the best because you never know where I'll be with sniper. I move around the map. I'm really sneaky.
TBS: How are Neighbor and Hysteria different from you? Break down their styles.
Snipedown: Well, Neighbor sits back a little bit. He sometimes waits to push up. Hysteria isn't always sniping when he has the sniper. Like, he will pick up ball instead of sniping. And when he does have the sniper, he doesn't always have it out.
TBS: Hysteria also wanted me to ask you about the Status Quo LAN. Was it a wake-up call or is SQ that good?
Snipedown: I'd say it was a wake-up call. We knew we were going to get beat. We just wanted to see where we were at. We hadn't played as a team since Vegas. We were very rusty and it didn't feel right. On day two, we felt better. But Status Quo is definitely a Top 4 team.
TBS: The champs took a little break, huh? A little beach action, maybe?
Snipedown: Not really. Everyone just had so much going on. Tom has had a lot of ESPN and G4 interviews. We just moved into a house in Florida. Oh, and we don't even have internet in the house yet. We're outside the limits of every company. And then Kyle and I are still at school.
TBS: A pro gaming team lives in a house without internet ...
Snipedown: (Laughs) We're trying to get internet. We plan on having a T1 connection put in. The house is literally like two miles outside of any boundary.
TBS: Sounds pretty cool actually. The four of you are shackin' up as a team?
Snipedown: Well, Tom and Brian are living there year-round with this guy named V7, who, honestly, I don't even know his real name. Me and Kyle are in school, but we plan on heading down there this summer.
TBS: Back to the Status Quo LAN, how do you see them doing this season?
Snipedown: I think a lot of people are going to be underestimating them in the first tournament. They have the best teamwork I've ever seen. I got killed instantly so many times by teamshot. They've just played so much together.
TBS: Any more LANs coming up?
Snipedown: We're current looking for another LAN the week before Meadowlands.
TBS: Speaking of Meadowlands, you've got Xit Woundz first round. What's your take?
Snipedown: I don't know too much about them. Honestly, I don't really pay that much attention to the other Top 15; I'm just focused on my team. I'm looking to go into that game, play a few games, and walk out.
TBS: No scout?
Snipedown: No scout.
TBS: Round two will be the winner of Antigravity and Carbon. What do you see there?
Snipedown: I see Carbon there. They may not be playing as much as before Dallas and Vegas last year, but they are still good, although regardless of how much they are playing I think we'll definitely still beat them.
TBS: Who is your Meadowlands Top 4? And your sleeper?
Snipedown: Us, Instinct, Triggers Down and Status Quo. Final Boss is my sleeper. Them and Classic.
TBS: You took down the Old Spice Rising Star Award last season. Who will follow in your footsteps?
Snipedown: There's a few. Either Totz or Flamesword. Heinz and Pistola will be up there as well.
TBS: Another tourney question. Who's your Final Four? We're talking hoops here ...
Snipedown: Oh, oh -- I got Duke, UNC, Louisville and UConn.
TBS: No sleepers?
Snipedown: Well, last year was all No. 1 seeds, so ...
TBS: Good knowledge. You're an athlete right? Tennis?
Snipedown: Yeah, but I've taken a little break.
TBS: Who is the most athletic of the pro gamers?
Snipedown: Other than myself? No idea. (Laughs) I don't know if anyone else even plays sports.
TBS: Do the other kids at school know about Snipedown?
Snipedown: Every person at school knows what I do. It's funny; there are a lot of fans at school. I'll get random people asking me if I'm Snipedown. But most people do call me Eric. (Laughs)
TBS: So what happens when school ends, do you pull a LeBron and go straight pro?
Snipedown: (Laughs) No, no, I'm going to Ball State College. I'll be studying business. I'm not sure what yet, but business.
TBS: Alright, a Ball State Cardinal! Okay, I never asked Hysteria's third question. He wants to know what's up with you telling everyone you got up to 150 mph in your car.
Snipedown: First of all, I told him 140. And I stand by that.
TBS: I won't ask why. Ok, here's your opportunity to put on a journalist's hat. Who should I interview next week and what are three questions I should ask?
Snipedown: Ghostayame. He's very underappreciated in the league. He's getting more attention now, but people don't realize that he's as dedicated as someone like Tom. Ask him: 1) Do you think your team will play as strong as at the end of last season?; 2) What's up with the inconsistent placings last season?; and 3) What's the deal with Penn State losing in the Rose Bowl so bad? Him and Carlos both go to Penn State, so I'm just wondering ... what's up with that?
TBS: You have anything to say to your fans?
Snipedown: Don't doubt us going into the first tournament. The LANS and the stats you see online don't matter. We're as ready as any other team.
Visit us every Thursday at 4 p.m. ET for a new MLG Pro Sitdown. Next week, we're going to search high and low to track down Ghostayame. And be sure to hit up TheBuckStuff on Xbox Live with your feedback!