MLG Pro Sitdown: StrongSide


Going into the 2007 season, Final Boss needed a fourth. Someone who could bring them back to the Promised Land. FB was coming off a second place finish in Vegas, and this, of course, was unacceptable.

So Walshy, Ogre 1 and Ogre 2 looked around. They had their pick of the litter. The best of the best. Who, after all, wouldn't want to play for Final Boss?


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.

"I felt like a kid on Christmas that got everything he wanted," said a young, geeked up StrongSide, after being asked to join FB.

Old Man Walsh and the BrOgres gave StrongSide the chance of a lifetime and he paid them back accordingly. With kill after kill. Snipe after sniper. And FB rolled.

StrongSide was, by all accounts, a beast.

A lot has changed since then. StrongSide is still a beast, no doubt. But Walshy is playing with a new set of twins on Instinct. Ogre 1 is about to wrap up his Goodbye Tour on The Incredibles. Ogre 2 is the last standing member of vintage Final Boss.

And this time, it's StrongSide that is providing the opportunities.

Asking three young, up-and-comers to team, StrongSide is the leader of Status Quo. His teammates are three guys that remind us of a former version of, well, him. They put in mega-hours of "Halo." They are 100 percent focused on gaming. They require no spotlight. And what better team name for perhaps the most humble guys in the league?

Yeah, so they didn't finish as high as we hoped in Meadowlands. But check this out -- it was their first tournament. They still finished Top 8. And we can all agree they are in the Top 8 to stay. Could any of you honestly say you'd bet against them improving in Columbus? Didn't think so. Expect those legendary StrongSide practice regimes to double.

I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't looking forward to this interview.

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

TheBuckStuff: Last time I interviewed you, it was like three in the afternoon and we had to pry you out of bed with a spatula. Are you awake now?

(Laughs) Everyone is just getting up right now and getting ready to game. We're hanging out at Totz' house because his birthday is coming up. Then I'm going to head back home for awhile. I haven't been there in awhile.

TBS: Every time I hear StrongSide, I think of that scene from Remember the Titans. Where does your name come from?

It actually does come from Remember the Titans. When I saw that, I liked it, so I made it my gamertag.

TBS: I'm clearly a genius. Dude, seventh place in Meadowlands. Not the finish I was expecting. Break it down.

I felt the same way. Especially with our LAN experience. I was expecting Top 4, Top 5. But, let's throw out there that it was our first tournament playing together. It was a new thing for all of us. We had lots of practice, but we're still a brand new team. And Top 7 isn't that bad. We're going to start practicing again and we'll be ready for Columbus.

TBS: But y'all started so good! You beat VG The New Order, my candidate for worst team name in "Halo," and you, yourself, played amazing.

I was feeling pretty good. But it didn't seem like we were playing how we normally play. Something wasn't there. I thought we all played excellent against VG. But, as it went on, something wasn't going right. Something was a little bit different. We all felt it. We didn't know what was going on. After that, we exactly didn't fall apart, but it was hard for us to keep it together in the Final Boss series.

TBS: Even then, you played well. You dropped a +12 on Guardian Ball. What happened?

I think we got a little bit startled. We only lost each game just by a little bit and we were hanging in there. We had a hard time recovering after each game. We were going into each game a little bit wild, maybe. I can't say we weren't playing good. We just weren't playing good as a team.

TBS: Y'all brought it back together for your first match against Heaven and Earth and then Xit Woundz.

We were definitely able to bring it back against Heaven and Earth. We had a rough game there in Pit Team Slayer, but they were fun and exciting games and we were playing really well the first time we played them. We were "the" Status Quo. For our first tournament, I think we played perfect going into it. All we can think about now is Columbus.

TBS: As a team leader, you have to be proud for the way you bounced back after the H&E loss to beat a veteran team in Carbon. Right?

Definitely. It was good to see we didn't let go after being put in the consolation. We kept our heads high and won the seventh-place game.

TBS: How do you judge your teammates' performances?

I think they played perfect. If the lights affected them, they didn't show it at all. They kept their composure and didn't let that get to them. They focused on gaming. Just them and the TV, and nothing else, the way it should be. They were playing perfect despite all the fans around and everyone screaming.

TBS: And how did your teammates' judge your team's play?

They were in the same boat as me. They thought they could have played better. They thought we got a little bit sloppy and that we need to get it together as a team.

TBS: Have you read much response from your fans?

Not yet. I haven't read much of anything. I've just kinda been relaxing, using today to relax and then we'll get practicing soon. I'm sure they were a little bit disappointed. Columbus ... we'll show them the real Status Quo.

TBS: As the proven veteran, the team leader, how do you help your team going into Columbus?

I'm definitely waiting for the film from the tournament to come out so I can break it down. Then we'll be able to go over what we did right and what we did wrong. We can go over each gametype. I think we all know that we felt we could have done better, and we know we have some stuff to fix and go over.

TBS: You guys were sort of the LAN champs coming into Meadows, so you'll know best ... how does the LAN translate to a tournament?

StrongSide It took me three or four times playing on the mainstage to get used to it. Back in 'Halo 2,' there would be times I'd be really nervous and I'd make decisions that I wouldn't normally make. Once you get used to the feeling of the mainstage, used to the feeling of everything -- not just the mainstage -- you'll be good.

-- StrongSide

At a LAN, a mistake is not going to throw you off the littlest bit. It won't be in your head that each mistake will cost you the game. In the tournament, everything is on the line. Everything is right there in front of you. The crowd, the mainstage, it's all right there. A mistake could get to you a little bit. That's what separates top players. You'd be able to notice that type of player and that player that doesn't let that stuff get to him as much. There is a lot more on the line in a tournament game. In a LAN, you are just practicing strats, setups ... At a tournament, it's not practice anymore.

TBS: Well said. And how long did it take you to become one of those "types of players" that doesn't let mistakes get to him?

It took me three or four times playing on the mainstage to get used to it. Back in "Halo 2," there would be times I'd be really nervous and I'd make decisions that I wouldn't normally make. Once you get used to the feeling of the mainstage, used to the feeling of everything -- not just the mainstage -- you'll be good.

TBS: I have a not-quite-professional suggestion for Columbus that I think will instantly make you a better team. How about real jerseys this time? Not those generic MLG black shirts? That was pretty weak ...

StrongSide: Exactly! We need some jerseys. We can't be rockin the standard MLGPro. We had some stuff wrong with our logo and we did get it fixed right before the tournament, but it wasn't in time to have new jerseys made.

TBS: SQ was supposed to be the sleeper of Meadowlands. Well, I take that back. That would not make you a sleeper if you were "supposed" to win. But how about the real sleepers, Believe the Hype and H&E?

BtH was my sleeper team and they definitely showed that they were a team to beat. They came out, gave it their all, and surprised a lot of people. Their teamwork was probably one of the best at the tournament. They made pushes together. They did it all. Their style was a different style of play. They brought back the non-stop-charging kind of play. In some situations, they forced all man charges. They played really smart and proved to themselves to be a top tier team.

TBS: What about H&E?

H&E is definitely also a good team. I think that if they stick together and keep practicing, they'll become one of those names that are always placing at the top.

TBS: Str8 surprised some people with their finish. What was your take?

Str8 was a big surprise for a lot of people. It's weird not seeing the winners from last year's championship in the Top 3. Str8 didn't practice too much and kind of waited to the last minute to start getting on and ready for Meadowlands. But, I think now, they know they need to get on and start practicing, and they'll be ready for Columbus. You'll definitely see a new Str8 Rippin in Columbus.

TBS: Were you impressed with TD?

I was impressed by TD's comeback! That was quite a feat to see them losing right at the start and making their way all the way back. They played a lot of games and a lot of teams. Not too many people could do that -- play all those games and come back all the way to the top.

TBS: Some teams struggled. Mackeo dropped an overkill first play against The Incredibles. Classic placed pretty low. What's up with that?

I didn't catch too much of their series. From what I heard, it seemed like The Incredibles weren't really expecting to make a Top 8 finish. It seemed like they were kind of going to have fun and play some "Halo."

TBS: Did you talk to Ogre1?

No, I didn't get a chance to talk to him. But I did talk to Pac, and he wanted to make a comeback.

TBS: Do you think he plans on making a comeback with The Incredibles?

I think he wanted to start with them to get back into the flow of things. Since they'll only be a team for these two tournaments, and then Ogre1 is flying off to Australia, he's on that team for that time and then will probably try to find a new team.

TBS: What did you think about Walshy's "Full House" comments?

That's pretty funny. (Laughs) That's a hilarious thing to compare to .. "Full House." I can't believe he called the Ogre Twins the Olsen Twins.

TBS: Who does that make you?

I don't know! I need to ask him.

TBS: What was your favorite part of the tournament?

Seeing one of the SQ fans come running out -- he had this shield on his face, a painted-on shield -- and all these die-hard SQ fans were cheering us on. I thought it was pretty awesome. I had fun the entire tournament. It was awesome to be back.

TBS: I see a lot of TBD's on the upcoming schedule as far as locations. Where is your dream MLG location?

My dream MLG would be MLG Bahamas.

TBS: I like that. A lot of guys just say their hometown.

It's gotta be someplace tropical!

TBS: Okay, I interviewed you today because Cpt Anarchy told me in my interview last week that I should. He also gave me three questions for you. First, whatever happened to the infamous "StrongSide Doesn't Choke Dual Magnums?"

(Laughs) Oh, that was way back in the day. We might see some of that this season. The Old Dual Magnums ... after we'd come clutch in a series, like, we'd be down 2-0 and we'd come back 3-2, or whenever we did something clutch at all, I'd stand up and shoot em in the air. "We don't choke." We might see some more of that this season.

TBS: Amazing. Next question, what was it like to team with Final Boss compared to anyone else you've teamed with?

It wasn't really too different. What was different with FB was I was playing with the three guys I looked up to the most. Teaming with them, I'd listen to everything they'd say, all the advice they'd give me. In the past, I had looked up to teammates, but these were the big dogs. Teaming with them, being the young guy on the team, it was a different feeling. I'm on their team. They'd taken so many first places before. I didn't want to disappoint and place anything less than first.

TBS: The Captain's last question ... whatever happened to "The Lion King" theme song?

(Laughs) These are some questions, man ... "The Lion King" theme song. It's still there. It's still there. "The Lion King" theme song ... back in "Halo 2," we'd be playing a game, and randomly I'd turn on "The Lion King" theme song for no reason. The other team could hear it, so they'd be hearing "The Lion King" theme song in the middle of the game, and no one could take the game seriously anymore, while I ran around killing everyone. It's gone for now. Maybe we'll have to bring it back.

TBS: You got any other tricks up your sleeves? Any other old habits?

There is probably a bunch of stuff. Nothing off the top of my head. You'll have to ask Cpt Anarchy. We'll have to bring some of this back this season. You know, throw some curve balls out there.

TBS: Well, The Captain chose you, and now it's your turn. Who should I interview next week?

StrongSide: Who have you interviewed so far?

TBS: Your boy, Totz. Snipedown, Hysteria and Neighbor. Ghostayame and Cpt Anarchy.

Alright, let's go with Walshy. Let's ask him who is StrongSide in the "Full House?" Ask him, are Tip Top Ant Eater and Docta Dunk going to make a comeback?

TBS: (Laughs) I don't get it ... but I'm going to enjoy asking!

Those are fake accounts. (Laughs)

TBS: How about some dirt from the FB days?

Definitely. Ask him, are we ever going to have a "Wrestlemania" rematch?

TBS: (Laughs) I assume this was StrongSide vs. Walshy?

It is. I took it down. I brought home the gold.

TBS: Well done! Like a true champ! You have anything else to say to your loving fans, Champ?

Thanks for all the support in Meadowlands and I hope to see a lot of you out in Columbus!

Visit us every Thursday at 4 p.m. ET for a new MLG Pro Sitdown. Next week, we're going to search the retirement homes for the oldest MLG Pro, Walshy. And be sure to hit up TheBuckStuff on Xbox Live with your feedback!