Why does everyone love Walshy?
You got like an hour? Yeah, yeah, I can be quick.
He's considered young by most, but he's a cagey veteran, spokesman and the Godfather of Major League Gaming.
Fans chant from the grandstands, "Wal-shy, Wal-shy, Wal-shy!" He's so likeable, they don't even cheer for the underdog.
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I have personally seen someone pull a Wayne's World, get on his knees in front of Walshy, and claim "not worthy." I have seen the old man sign shirts, controllers and foreheads. Better yet, some diehard fan actually had Walshy's tattoo inked into his own forearm. Left forearm, just like Walshy.
Other fans sport his clothing line, participate in his charity and follow him as their fearless and iconic leader. They tag along through ups (three National Championships with Final Boss), downs (dropped by the Ogres), and ups again (2008 runners-up with Instinct).
He's got the cool and unique sponsorships -- Red Bull and Agent Zero. He chums with NBA stars and rock stars. Some group even sent his DNA into space. You know, in case they need him in the future.
Maybe, more than anything, fans love Walshy because he gave up everything to succeed in a virtually unknown gaming league six years ago when there were tube TVs and no audience. Like few others from that time, he's stuck with it, worked hard and stayed loyal to the fans that were so loyal to him. And all along the way, he's allowed them to live their dream vicariously as an MLG pro.
OK, enough cheese. I'm supposed to be pissed at the man, since I spent all off-season telling everyone that Walshy was probably putting in 10-hour days and that Instinct would sweep 2009. Yeah, I made a bold prediction. Say something.
Without further ado, we bring to you... Walshy.
TheBuckStuff: Meadowlands. You were my pick. Thanks for letting me down, jerk.
Walshy: How much money did you lose?
TBS: I lost respect, mostly. I was reppin' a "Walshy is My Homeboy" t-shirt and then I looked like an idiot.
Walshy: Yeah, I guess I let the homeboys down.
TBS: You dropped the first game to The Riot. The Riot? Really?
Walshy: All tournament long, we had struggles with Narrows Flag and Pit Team Slayer. We dropped our first Pit Flag game against Ambush. I don't know. We had some gametypes down 100 percent. Others, we were a little shaky on. It's weird to say, but going into the tournament, we didn't feel as prepared as we'd like to have been. That's definitely our fault. I'm going to go to Seattle again to practice with Neighbor because I got some good practice there already. Then our whole team is going to LAN.
Walshy: I wouldn't say we were completely unprepared. I'd say we were 99.9 percent ready. Even the weekend before the event, we played at a local tournament against four guys that were just thrown together. I mean, they had some good players like Hysteria, but they were random, and we struggled. But we bounced back well after that for the tournament. I just feel like we'll prepare more for this next one. I can tell we're already clicking better than before.
TBS: OK, I'm going to take credit for the negative mood of this interview already. You came in second place! I just know your expectations -- win or go home.
Walshy: (Laughs) Yeah, I guess we were pretty happy with our results. Being in the Finals is still great.
TBS: What needs to change for you to win the next one?
Walshy: Roy and Lunchbox have a curse, so we'll need to deal with that. They still haven't won a tournament. Their highest placing is second. So, maybe we'll get into some superstition to help them get over it.
TBS: I recommend Voodoo. But hey, Heinz and Pistola had never won a tournament before either. I didn't see them dipping into any black magic.
Walshy: Right, but they had never been to the Finals before.
TBS: OK, you win. Moving on, the Final Boss matchup. Was that weird for you to face your old squad?
Walshy: It was interesting. They were definitely very prepared for this event. In my opinion, Victory and Mackeo, especially, did amazing at times. And no, I didn't back up my pregame comments. (Laughs) But my teammates had my back and we still pulled the win.
TBS: Speaking of, you have become Mr. One-Liner. How long do you prepare those one-liners before the tournaments? Be honest.
Walshy: I'd say I spent just less than 20 hours in front of the mirror practicing.
TBS: (Laughs) Less than 20, eh? You'd never know! So, Instinct didn't quite "Believe the Hype" like everyone else. But are they still the real deal?
Walshy: They obviously proved themselves at this event, but you have to prove yourself to the community. Classic took second in last year's opener, but they never made it back to the Finals. I think that is what some people are expecting. Only time will tell. Cloud is pullin' off. Clutch is pullin' off. They showed up. They showed they know to play. They showed they know how to play on the Main Stage.
TBS: They were rollin'. But you guys put the breaks on them. How?
Walshy: (Laughs) We tapped on the breaks. Maybe even used the emergency break. Man, they were close. I think we won by like a second and a half on oddball.
TBS: But you won. Can't say the same for the Triggers Down series. 3-0 and 3-1. And Homeboys everywhere shed a tear. What happened?
Walshy: Going into the first series, we just straight up got worked. Second series, we started off so fresh. We came back and won the first game, and we all thought, "This is the moment for a turnaround. Win the next few games, then take the series." But they bounced back and we gained no momentum. It was frustrating. There were a couple close ones, maybe, but we never felt like we had control. We never had it. They controlled each game.
TBS: You've told me in the past that with a great gameplan, you may be outslayed in an objective game, but you'll still win. First series on Flag Pit, you outslayed Triggers Down but lost three flags to one. How does that happen? Doesn't seem like you!
I feel like ever since 'Halo 3' started last year, I haven't been as strong as a player as I thought I could be. I feel like I have kind of hurt my team individually. But I'm going to change that.
Walshy: You know, that game was frustrating. We killed three of them and had their flag in Hallway, then somehow let Heinz run across the bridge with a snipe. He killed me on Plat and stopped us from capping the flag. We also had a chance to stop a cap at the beginning, and they got a touch on it in the last second three or four times. We thought we were going to get the stop, and every time they'd get a touch until eventually they capped it.
TBS: For sure, 3-1 flags didn't quite tell the story of that game. But Game 4 of the second series -- the last game of the tournament -- it looked like you just had the rug pulled out from under you. Not typical for Walshy!
Walshy: Yeah, it seemed like we just couldn't do anything. They took over. I definitely don't feel like we gave up, even though it may have looked that way because of the disappointment on our faces. At the very end, it was like 150-240 seconds, and they had the oddball at Top B, and we were still trying to kill them. It's frustrating. You can't 'nade them. You can't shoot them. Uhh ... not a good feeling. That, and the most helpless feeling -- on Narrows Flag -- when they are running your flag back and are on their side about to cap, and you spawn in back of man-cannon. You can see them about to cap, but you can't do anything.
TBS: (Laughs) Yeah, I think we're all picturing that right now. Not cool. Looking at the numbers -- which are all available on MLGPro.com now, hooray! -- all of your wins were 4-game wins. And the one game you kept dropping was slayer. You guys having some issues there?
Walshy: Yeah, mostly Pit Slayer. We struggled on a lot of Pit and Narrows games. Like Narrows TS to Final Boss. Obviously, we got beat six games by TD, so it wasn't all Team Slayer there. We lost plenty of objective to them!
TBS: At the end of the day, you won second place. Well done.
Walshy: It's a result. The way it happened though, you can't help but be a bit disappointed. If we got knocked out earlier and had to fight our way back, I would be much happier with second. I guess we need to step back and realize it was our first event together. Despite all the off-season practice, we just weren't at our best, but we have no excuses. We feel like we know what we have to improve on. We didn't go into that event like, "Oh, wow, we're 100 percent amazing right now and pulling 100 percent ridiculous plays." We were playing well. I just didn't feel like we were as good as we could be.
TBS: Okay, enough Meadowlands. Let's talk about the Olsen Twins. If you are Uncle Jessie, and the BrOgres are the Olsens, who does that make StrongSide? He wanted me to ask you that, by the way.
Walshy: (Laughs) Who was the funny one with all the faces? Joey? Yeah, that's StrongSide.
TBS: (Laughs) The funny one with all the faces! Nice, I'm sure he'll enjoy that! Let's gossip for just a minute. What's the latest with you and the Ogres?
Walshy: Things have definitely healed up a bit. It's not nearly as bad as before. I was really, really, really hurt at first. But things are not too awkward anymore. Me and Ogre1 actually talked a bit at the event. We warmed up a little bit. It's not as bad as the trash talk makes everyone think. People think the Ogres are probably like, "What he call me man? Son-a-bitch goin' down!" (Laughs) But it's not like that. It's all fun.
TBS: (Laughs ... for a while) You have set the standard now. Your fans expect more trash talk. You better get back in front of that mirror and prepare some more one-liners.
Walshy: You're right, people expect it. I gotta deliver! I kind of went on a rant there with the Victory and Mackeo thing. I just started talking. You can't always prepare for that.
TBS: I enjoyed that as well. Back to the "Full House" theme. With Str8 Rippin shakin' up in a house, when can we expect to see an Instinct house?
Walshy: No plans of yet.
TBS: I mean, you guys already signed a contract saying you have to stick together this season, you might as well sign a lease, too.
Walshy: I don't know if that's a good idea. Especially because of that contract. We'd probably ended up screaming at each other. "Lunchbox, what's up with the toothpaste man? Seriously, what's up with that?" And the team falls apart ...
TBS: (Laughs) Fair enough. Tell me more about that contract.
Walshy: Pretty much, we were all in agreement that successful teams stick together. They work on things rather than change their rosters. Teams that change from event to event normally win off pure skill. It's random though. They'll play sick one tournament and bad the next because they aren't necessarily good at playing with each other. We felt like the contract would also help us take it more seriously. We can't even consider another team, unless things get drastically bad. In our agreement, if we all four agree, for example, that it's not working out and we need to part ways, then we can go our separate ways. It sort of makes the team change a last ditch effort. It's fair to all our teammates, our fans, our sponsors and it makes us more professional.
TBS: And you're the first to do it, amazingly. I, personally, like it a lot. OK, here's my last Meadowlands question. Do you know what else went on, in your home state no less, the weekend of Meadowlands?
Walshy: Yes, and I will admit, I jumped from Michigan to the Michigan State hoops bandwagon. I didn't get to watch the final game, but when I got back, you couldn't really even call it a game.
TBS: As a die-hard MSU hoops fan, I'm going to let that one go. How was your off-season?
Walshy: I enjoyed it. I didn't take an insane amount of off-season like years past. I'd normally take off more time, but I feel like ever since "Halo 3" started last year, I haven't been as strong as a player as I thought I could be. I feel like I have kind of hurt my team individually. But I'm going to change that.