Pro Gamer Dave “Walshy” Walsh on the upcoming Red Bull LAN party, his strategy at winning $100k at Halo, losing to kids on Xbox Live, and settling the age-old controller versus mouse-and-keyboard debate.
Pilot. Firefighter. Police officer. Prepubescent, those were the three professions that I, along with most other boys, dreamt of going into. The positions held respect, a sense of adventure, and more importantly, looked fun. Playing with planes, fire, or guns, and getting paid? Sign me up. Then came the Nintendo. With every 8-bit, controller-held victory came an aspiration of, “Man, only if I could get paid to do this.” For most of us, reality, along with or our mother's right hand, came crashing down.
Dave Walsh is an exception. Hailing from Michigan, USA, “Walshy”, as he’s known when opening up a can of Xbox Live pwnage, is part of an elite few who grabbed the pixelated ball and ran with it. Who can blame him? What else is there to do when winter temps drop to an average of teste-shrivelingly cold? An avid gamer for most of his life, it wouldn't be till Microsoft dropped Halo for the Xbox console that Walsh’s game would advance to the next level.
Competing in the ultra-competitive Major League Gaming circuit, Walshy would dominate the field, taking his team to win three National Championships, as well as two second and a third place finishes. Not since Jordan on the court, Tyson in the ring, or Lindsey Lohan in rehab have we seen such a dominant presence. And with Red Bull LAN -- a private Halo 3 jam session with Walsh’s crew “Carbon” going head-to-head against the “Warriors” and “Status Quo” teams – Walshy’s halo’d reign is likely to continue.
How do you like Halo: Reach so far?
I’m enjoying the new game a lot. It’s very different from Halo 3. Halo: Reach is a sort of combination of Call of Duty and Halo where you now have the leveling perks and the addition of bloom or recoil in the weapons.
Besides those two features, have there been any other improvements to the franchise?
Halo: Reach has improved connectivity, making it a lot more online friendly. Without an amazing online connection, playing Halo 3 can be challenging.
Find anything annoying?
Being a top player going online with a new game, it kind of sucks losing to a bunch of kids and having smack talked to you.
That must be super annoying.
It is. [laughter] Give it a few more weeks until I can put Halo 3 down and then we’ll see what happens.
In Red Bull LAN, you’re sticking to Halo 3 for your practice sessions, why is that?
Major League Gaming (MLG) is still competing on Halo 3 which is why we’re practicing it for the upcoming MLG tournament in Washington D.C. (October 15-17, 2010) and the National Championships in Dallas (November 5-7, 2010). There’s $100k at stake.
It kind of sucks losing to a bunch of kids and having smack talked to you.
How long have you been with your current team, Carbon?
I’ve been with them for about a year and a half. We didn’t place where we wanted to at the last tournament and we ended up recruiting two new guys: Chig and Soldier.
When recruiting, what do you look for in a Halo player?
A player’s all-around game is the most important part. Some guys might be great at sniping or something but you need someone who’s good at all things. They need to know how to play the game as a team and still be a cool person.
For Red Bull LAN, you’re practicing against the “Warriors” and “Status Quo”, how would you compare your team’s playing styles compared to theirs?
We’re not as organized as Status Quo might be, but we play better in hectic situations. They like to play the match at their pace while we like to be very aggressive. As for the Warriors, I can’t say much. I haven’t had an opportunity to see their playing style.
Why did you pick these two teams to play against?
Status Quo has established themselves as a top team -- they placed Fourth at the last three tournaments, which is why we invited them. The last time Red Bull had a LAN, we played against one other team. Spending that much time with one team got us used to fighting against one specific style, which is why we picked the Warriors. Not knowing how they play will make for good practice.
What’s your regimen going to be for the three days of LAN?
We’ll be at the Red Bull headquarters from noon to midnight, giving each team a chance to play two full series against each of the other teams, and an opportunity to sit out and watch the other two go at it. Each series runs about two and a half hours. We’re planning a healthy schedule as well as proper eating and physical activity. I think we have a Yoga session scheduled.
Besides wings, what advantages are there to training at the Red Bull facility?
Besides unlimited Red Bull, it’s good to get out of the basement and play in an environment outside of our comfort zone like we would during a tournament.
What are some of your key Halo strategies?
We’ve been working on our slaying game to out-kill the other team.
How does the transition from being good at a game to pro happen?
Being top ranked at tournaments. Playing-wise, what separates a pro and an amateur is how they set themselves up, their decision making, and positioning.
Besides Halo, what other games do you currently play?
Halo: Reach and I just started getting into Starcraft 2.
Controller versus mouse-and-keyboard?
I think they’re a different set of skills. If you put the two together, mouse-and-keyboard would win because of the precision. There’s no contest.
Are you any good on mouse-and-keyboard?
I’m not as good as some of the other guys, but I’m alright.
If you could pick any weapon from Halo to use for “home defence” what would it be?
The Halo 1 shotgun. That’s my golden gun. I always hit perfect shots with that shotgun.
Outside of the Halo series, favourite game of all time?
Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64.
The first game you ever played?
It was probably some game on the Atari, but the one I remember was Contra for the Nintendo.
The first game you ever beat?
Contra. With the cheat code, of course.
Was there ever a game you met that you couldn’t beat?
Battletoads for Nintendo. That game was impossible.
If the gamertag “Walshy” was for some reason forever banned and you had to go with a new handle, what would you pick?
I’d go with “The Truth”. I’m a big Ludacris fan.
Lastly, has gaming ever gotten you laid?
Absolutely. You know I've got Recon armour!
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