MLG Pro Sitdown: Ghostayame

Jon Wasserman/MLGPro.com

Like the '87 Detroit Pistons, the 2006 Carbon squad was known as the "Bad Boys" of their League.

At a Chicago event, after Carbon ousted Str8 Rippin, Gandhi approached Tsquared with some toilet paper. "You're going to need this to wipe yourself off."

There was some pushing. A water bottle was thrown. But no one was seriously hurt.

The next thing you know, MLG instituted a penalty system -- something that the '87 Pistons knew all too much about -- complete with technical fouls. Talking trash got you slapped with a "T." This meant losing host, something much more severe than losing two freethrows to the other team in hoops.


Each week, ESPN Video Games' MLG guru TheBuckStuff catches up with an MLG pro for an in-depth, often irreverent conversation about life in the gaming big leagues. Check back every Thursday for the latest MLG Pro Sitdown.

But, like the Pistons, their intimidating style eventually paid off. Carbon picked up Ghostayame, went to Vegas, and came home with a 2006 National Championship and $100,000.

In 2007, they made it back to the Finals but lost to Final Boss, who had picked up StrongSide, a former Carbon teammate.

In 2008, the wheels began to fall off. Karma left for seemingly greener pastures, Gandhi was dropped and Carbon seemed to have lost its identity. After three seventh-place finishes, the community wrote them off.

But despite an ugly regular season finish, Carbon managed to throw together an impressive run to finish third in Vegas.

So why is everyone doubting these guys?

Maybe they talk a little trash. Maybe they've been a little inconsistent. Maybe they don't feature mega-sponsorships or make regular media appearances. But they've finished first, second and third in the last three years.

As they've proven over and over, it doesn't matter how far down, how far out or how much you doubt them.

When it matters most, Carbon does work.

So without further ado, we bring to you ... Ghostayame.

TheBuckStuff: I know you've been asked 10,000 times, but I'm going to be 10,001. What does Ghostayame mean?

A few years ago, my brother got Xbox Live and Counter Strike, so it was his name from the start. My brother wanted Ghost, but it was generic so it was already taken. He added 0, 5 and 7, but it was still taken. One of his favorite games was Tenchu, the ninja game, and one of his favorite characters was named Ayame. So that's where the name came from.

TBS: And you just ganked his name?

(Laughs) Well I played more than he did. He started playing more PC, so I took it. People got to know me as Ghost, so I couldn't change it.

TBS: All great pro athletes have great nicknames. There are a lot of greats that have the initials MJ, but there is only one "MJ." There is King James, Shaq, Magic, CP3. What do you think about G-Ho?

Most people just call me Ghost. People butcher my name all the time online. People have no Idea. I've gotten G-Ho-57-ayame before. I guess G-Ho works.

TBS: Perfect. So you're a true veteran. You've been on Carbon longer than anyone else has been on any team, joining Orlando of '06. A lot of veterans make rookies carry bags. How do you take advantage of your vet status?

I wouldn't say I take too much advantage of being a veteran. The biggest advantage is you get to team with Top 8 players consistently. But you have to keep your game up with the rookies, guys like Snipedown and Hysteria. Veterans like Tsquared, Legit, Shockwave ... they still manage to place high despite being around for so long. I guess there aren't that many perks, besides everyone knowing you when you are at an event.

TBS: What's that like, being a pro at an MLG event? What's the craziest thing a fan has done for you?

This guy we met through Xbox Live hooked up our entire team with second row seats at Le Rêve in Vegas. Before we went out there, he said, "Pick a show." He's also looking to hook us up in NYC, maybe a Knicks game. He said the same thing as Vegas, "Pick whatever in NY." We were looking at some shows, maybe Barnum & Bailey or The Lion King. (Laughs)

TBS: Nice! Always good to have guys like that around. Speaking of the hook-up, you were part of the 12 that were hooked up with $250,000 MLG contracts. How's the original Dirty Dozen doing these days?

Only a handful are still playing. I don't know if Gandhi is still playing or not. Fonzi, Saiyan, Foulacy. They are all done. It's nice to have that check, but you still need to be performing to play Halo as a profession.

TBS: Why didn't they make it?

A lot of them just kind of lost the determination. A bunch of them accomplished what they wanted, they achieved their goals but they lost their drive. Or maybe they didn't find Halo 2 or 3 as appealing, the competition not as fun, or just lost interest overall. Fonzi went to school, Foulacy went to school, Saiyan went to school. Some of them had girlfriends as well.

TBS: They are part of MLG history now. As is "Old Carbon." How could you compare the old Carbon team with the new?

On "Old Carbon," everyone had a ton of fun. Always laughing, always making jokes. Gandhi was always trash talking. Karma had a bright spirit, always having a great time. Shockwave was our fierce team leader, a crazy intelligent strategist. And I was the filler-in new guy looking up to all these kids.

TBS: You also seemed to have a few stereotypes, fair or not. Looking back, I pictured "Old Carbon" like the Piston's "Bad Boys."

I would definitely agree with that. I wouldn't necessarily call it the "Bad Boys" team, but we were known for getting technicals. I think we influenced MLG to create the fouls, actually, because of Gandhi's incident with T2. (Laughs) I would like to say we were responsible for that!

TBS: What else was Carbon known for?

Being a comeback team, no matter how far down, no matter the situation, we always knew we could make a nasty comeback and win the game. In early 2007, we were down 5-1 in a best-of-11 series and won 6-5. That was against Elamite Warrior, in case he's listening! In the 2006 New York playoffs, we were down 4-1 in the Finals against Final Boss and we won 6-5. We were down and out, but we kept good spirits and took it game by game.

Ghostayame Being a comeback team, no matter how far down, no matter the situation, we always knew we could make a nasty comeback and win the game.

-- Ghostayame

TBS: There is a good and a bad here. To be a comeback team, that means you have to be down. How'd you get down so often in the first place?

Mostly due to frustration. Everyone has their own thing that frustrates them. I get frustrated or complain when I get out BR'd. Some get frustrated after missing a snipe shot. Most get down when trying their best but just feel helpless. They look left and right, their teammates are trying too, but the other team is just better, and you don't know what to do.

TBS: You've said you play on fake accounts to avoid people posting their out BR fights with you. But is that so bad? I mean, if they win one out of a 100 BR fights and are so proud to post it, that's actually an honor for you! If people posted when they out BR'd me, I'd be pretty happy about that.

It's pretty crazy how people have bragged about beating us. Not to compare it to such a huge scale, but if you scored a point on MJ in one-on-one but he still beat you by 10, you'd brag to all of your friends. It's just how it is. It's crazy to see myself in people's file shares. People will ask if they can play me 1v1 to be on my friends list. Crazy stuff, but it's a lot of fun.

TBS: OK, back to old vs. new. Talk about the new Carbon squad.

We're more determined than previous teams. Even in Halo 2, we didn't put as much time or games in as now. We're more determined to take first this year. Besides that, we're still having a good time. We lost Karma, so we're not as goofy. Carlos is still crazy. The Mad Russian, Soviet, is a good time. We're still young, we joke around and we talk trash. Same spirit, new teammates.

TBS: You also have a new stereotype, apparently. Snipedown told me to interview you because you were "underappreciated in MLG." Not the description I would put on a member of the "Bad Boys."

We LAN'd with Str8 a few times and became good friends. I had never talked with Snipedown until this season. At first, I thought he was immature. But he's matured now and is a lot more respectable. The people that are online all the time tend to play more with each other, like, if you're teammates aren't on, you pick others up. So I've been playing a lot with Eric.

TBS: Eric, er, Snipedown that is, had three questions for you. Do you think your team will play as well as the end of last season?

I definitely think so. After Vegas, Cpt Anarchy finally found his role on the team and learned how to perform at events. On top, we have Soviet now after replacing Naded, and he's a beast. He was taught by Walshy, so he has the ground rules there. In 2007, he was 1v1 Champ, which takes an immense amount of individual skill. He's actually at my house now. We're practicing together and training up for Meadowlands.

TBS: Gotta say, I'm a Soviet fan. Have you experienced "Soviet Mode" yet?

(Laughs) What's Soviet Mode?

TBS: Last season when I went to interview Walshy and Instinct in Michigan, he told me Soviet can go days without eating and only drinking Gatorade. So Old Man Walsh dubbed it "Soviet Mode."

(Laughs) He hasn't done that yet. We have another week and a half though. I'll ask him about it. He doesn't eat much ... it's crazy. He leaves after every game to get a drink. He's got some weird rituals, I'll leave it at that.

TBS: Second question from Snipedown. What's up with the inconsistent placings last season?

No one really took a form of leadership when Halo 3 came out. We were individuals, as people not just as players. In Halo 3, we figured we were just going to click and it would all play out. We're nasty and it will work. But Halo 3 is a different game. You need someone to get everyone on the same page, synched up, to make sure no one is running on their own, to make sure no one is making stupid pointless rushes. We had 37 place finishes in a row, and everything but third was bad in my eyes. Near the end of the season, Shockwave had been help up with school as an engineering major. Even though he was the captain, I took the opportunity for a leadership role and laid out some ground rules, like where to be on the map. It wasn't until after Dallas and before Vegas that we had it all flattened out.

TBS: Last question from Snipedown. What's the deal with Penn State losing in the Rose Bowl so bad?

(Laughs) The first half was a little sloppy with penalties. The second half, we set a record -- most points on USC in the second half. So I'm proud of that. It was like playing the Monstars in Space Jam. 6 feet 5 inches, 6 feet 3 inches, and those are just the receivers. Their line was huge, full of NFL first rounders. They physically outplayed us, not just strategically.

TBS: And Nittany Lion hoops get snubbed from the NCAA Tournament!

I know. It's ridiculous. We don't really even care about basketball. Our team is pitiful and has always been awful. This season, people started getting into it, going to games, but then we got snubbed on the bubble and people just gave up again. (Laughs)

TBS: Back to the tournament that matters -- Meadowlands. Are you prepared?

I would like to think so. Some people have their own opinions, like the need to LAN before every tournament, to hang out all the time. But we're more prepared than any other Halo 3 tournament. Myself and Cpt Anarchy sit next to each other every day and play. Soviet is over now. And over spring break, Shockwave came out as well. A lot think that LAN practice is most important. It helps, but I think we could repeat third place if not better.

TBS: Break down your first round matchup.

We play AntiGravity. Eli is their captain. We played them online a couple weeks ago and it wasn't pretty. Not going to say much. Obviously, you can look into the backgrounds of certain players, like Eli tries to jump out more or Snipedown always goes "top snipe," but I just try to win games. You have background knowledge of players, but like you said, I'm a veteran -- I've been playing so long, I just want to win.

TBS: Who is your sleeper?

The sleeper team is obviously Status Quo. They've been LAN'ing against every team possible. They've got countless games in. And they have relatively unknown players. You couldn't pick a better sleeper choice.

TBS: Sleepers aren't normally sleepers if they're the obvious choice! But who is your Top 4?

I hate to sound cocky, but I think we'll win the tournament. I don't know how the brackets work but number two, I'd say Str8 Rippin. Three would have to be Instinct, and four would be Triggers Down.

TBS: Ball is in your court. Who should I interview next week? I need someone with some knowledge, someone who can help me fill my bracket out!

I would say Cpt Anarchy because his background is crazy. He was on Str8, he had a year or two of trouble with teams and placings. Now he's on Carbon. Not to be biased. (Laughs) He has a crazy story.

TBS: Veteran move promoting the teammate! (Laughs) And your three questions?

Ahh, man. Gotta get some good ones: 1) What was it like having a season of Halo ruined because your teammate put on handicap? 2) If we beat Str8 in Round 2, we have to play TD Round 3. SK mentioned some tension between you two. Anything there? 3) Who is going to win the NBA Finals?

TBS: Nice. Right up my alley. Hoops and hostility. What's up with the handicap story?

First event, 2007, Captain and Fonzi and two other players were teaming. At the end of one of the games, Fonzi thought he was host, so he went to end the game with the same button combo you would always use as host to end the game, but he wasn't host, and he put his handicap on severe by accident. He then lost the series Game 5 ... severely. (Laughs) Carlos couldn't get out of a rut after that. He kept playing, but couldn't come back. The series would have been easily won. Beaver Creek, Team Slayer. He starts off the game with full overshield and dies after one melee. He says he didn't notice until 35 kills in!

Visit us every Thursday at 4 p.m. ET for a new MLG Pro Sitdown. Next week, I have a good feeling we're going to track down Captain Anarchy, considering he lives with the guy we just interviewed. And be sure to hit up TheBuckStuff on Xbox Live with your feedback!