Articles: MLG Nashville
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First off, this is a little late. Nashville was actually some time ago. I had issues getting the camera developed, time issues since college was starting, and all sorts of junk that was in the way. But, it doesn't matter; this isn't really about Nashville. This is about what it's like to go to an MLG event and actually be a PART of it. I have a write-up about St. Louis, but I only played smash there (was a blast), and I wasn't a part of a halo team, which is what you guys all love.
Second, this article isn't about the games my team played. To quell any future questions, we had a perfect record in pool play, two members of our team got knocked out second round FFA, two got knocked out third round FFA. We lost to a great team in championship bracket, putting us into the losers bracket, and then had many close games with the next team, but ended up losing to them. Below is a picture of me and my team (with our awesome shirts Jeff made). I am on the far left, and to my right is Ricky (DrunkenHawk), Jeff (CrazyKilla), and Jimmy (Lucky in Kentucky).
There was a little less than 60 teams there, so everyone had some good competition in store for them. There wasn't really any of the top three teams (3D, iGS, TmG) there, but there was a conglomerate of members there, and they were prepared for an easy win. They were extremely confident. Every time I've ever talked to Zyos, the only word other than "intense" I can use to describe him is "chill", as odd as it sounds. Gandhi (my favorite) was also pretty confident. Every picture I took with him in it, he had his eyes closed. Without fail.
While the team games are always interesting to watch, my favorite is always the FFA. People complain a lot about FFAs really being random, but I'm smart enough to know they're only random when people are at about the same skill level. The FFA I got knocked out in, it was close the whole way; one guy had jumped ahead everyone else, and all the other players in the FFA were within 5 kills of one another. FFA isn't about those people that were all close together though. It's about that one guy that was way ahead of everyone. He didn't get a dozen lucky spawns, he just was a consistent player, with good nades, a good BR, and generally knew what to do in most situations. Winners of FFAs generally did play better than anyone else. Below is a picture of the FFA winners, the FFA champ being Vash, the guy in the yellow Quik chocolate milk shirt.
Vash. Won. Everything. There was a kickass halo 1 2v2 after the FFAs (generally a standard event if there is time), and Vash's team won it. FFA? Vash won it. The 4v4? Vash was on that team. Nashville quickly got the name "Vashville" (catchy, huh?), and it goes without saying. I was actually lucky enough to have my room across the hall from them, so got to talk to them every now and then. I wasn't there to see all of it, but I opened my door once to see my teammate Ricky knock on Vash's door and run down the hall. A few seconds later Vash opened the door, saw Ricky, said "Bastard!" really loud, and then went back in his room. I'm assuming this happened a few times.
There were some female gamers around, representing their segment of the community. There are some who would think that female halo players are a gimmick, and that they are not very good. There are others that try to make fun of female gamers by saying that they are ugly or have bad personalities, or are just big nerds. I am sticking my tongue out at you right now as I show you these pictures.
I'd like you to know that the second picture (not all of them are girls, before you send me a thousand e-mails) was taken during pool play of teams that were top 16 seed, so nyah to people that don't think girls can be good gamers. They did better than my team!
When you play in a halo tournament, you start by registering your team in advance. Make sure that you make a MLGpro.com username that you want as your gamertag for the event! My teammate Jeff (CrazyKilla) was actually jsoccer18 there, because he registered with that mlgpro.com username from the forums. After you are all registered and get to the hotel (you get a sweet deal on the hotel with MLG too), the first thing ANY true MLGer starts to do is to find the venue, be told it's not open yet, and then you talk to the other people hanging around and set up some halo 1 LANs.
I met an awesome guy there who went by Eckbay, and we lanned a bit. His team didn't do good at all due to no sleep, it's like they had ZERO percent on getting any WINS at all IN THE TOURNAMENT. I told him I wouldn't tell the community that, so I guess I won't just go out and say it. Despite his team's need for sleep (during pool play, their team was actually looking forward to sleep), Eckbay beat me once in a halo 1v1 on Wizard. I was upset, but I came back and redeemed myself a few times over. Let's just say all he heard was "One...two...three" over and over again. Eckbay is still awesome though.
After you stay up too late lanning, you set your alarm clock, all your cell phones, and set up a courtesy wake-up call from the hotel to make sure you get up in time for the tournament and don't get disqualified (it happens folks, and it's a sad thing indeed). Then you go to sleep, wake up to a thousand different screaming electronic devices, and go down to the venue with a headache.
Once in the venue, on the left side there is generally dozens of teams milling around, some watching pros warm-up, some warming up themselves. On the right, you'll find all sorts of awesome smashers, to whom I give tons of respect to. You choose what you would like to do, and either warm-up with some slayer games or just browse through the competition.
After a little wait, Puckett or Anakin come up to the microphone and list off the FFA players for each station. If you're lucky, you'll get a bye and will automatically advance. If you're not, you will generally breeze through your first round fine, unless you are one of the poor souls that is called to play on the main stage with some of the more "seasoned" pro players.
The FFA is top four go on, the rest are out, so it can be very frustrating to get a few bad spawns here and there, but generally it's all okay. After the FFA is all said and done, the top 16 do their own little mini-pool play in a round robin-like format and everyone else goes through double elimination pool play.
Pool Play determines if you make it to the championship bracket. The championship bracket is top 32. Considering the top 16 are already in there, that leaves 16 slots for everyone else to fill. With teams literally in the dozens, this isn't always an easy feat. There's always a few teams that just aren't prepared and a few teams that thought they were awesome but almost had a heart attack after seeing the pro players, but generally everyone is fairly decent.
If, not when, you get past pool play to the championship bracket, this is when it gets difficult. You won't get a single easy game in the championship bracket unless your team is really good, or your team is really lucky. My team was unlucky and played a pretty good team (team select, if I remember correctly) that rocked us sideways. They were good at the gametypes we weren't, and they were on par with us at worst in the gametypes we were good at. If you lost to your first team (like me!), you'd get plopped into the losers bracket and play against another team that lost. If you lose that one, you're out. If you win, you continue battling through the losers bracket until the finals or until you are knocked out, whichever happens first.
Chances are, 99% of all the people that will read this won't even make it to the top 16. I hope I will eventually, if I can find someone that can sponsor me and NSCS that can help pay for the travel and hotels, but the chances of all of it are pretty slim. So why do I go? Because it's freaking awesome, and is the coolest atmosphere EVER. If you get knocked out as early as possible, you still have a blast. You are surrounded by halo players, and you watch the main screen and follow the teams placements. You cheer for your favorite team and for your favorite player (gogo Gandhi), and you watch the whole thing unfold.
Something that just about everyone thinks is worth mentioning is finally putting names to faces and meeting new people in person. Below is a picture of Wonder Libertarian, the Snow Pony supreme. Yes, that's a pony tattoo on his cheek. I was incredibly surprised to see how big this man was, but it was freaking awesome to see this guy tower over me wearing a hat that said "snow ponies pro".
After it's all said and done, you go home in plane, boat, or car (whichever you want) with a list of gamertags and a ton of memories. I have spent tons of money on gas, hotel costs, entry fees, you name it, and I'm now actively looking for sponsors and alternative sources of revenue for other tournaments because I want to go again. I want to go to Atlanta, I want to go to Chicago, I want to go to New York, and I don't care how much it costs. If I can find the money, you'll see me there, team or no team. That's how awesome these events are, and this is how much of an excellent company MLG is. Hit them up on www.mlgpro.com
Oh, I forgot to mention that the hotel had a jungle in it. You heard me. A real freaking jungle. You went up two escalators that had about thirty feet between them, and then go through a jungle to find your room. Eckbay and I actually got lost going to the arcade, and had to find our way through the jungle. Luckily Eckbay was there, because I have a horrible sense of direction and never could have made it. Oh, after beating Eckbay in DDR (okay, so he was on a much harder setting and had recently had heart surgery, I don't care. I suck at DDR, I'll take what I can get.), we met a pretty famous poker player there you might know. The camera I used was just a cruddy disposable one, but you can probably make him out in the background behind Eckbay, next to the girl in the pink dress. He's the one sweating hardcore.