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“I never expected to be the best”: an interview with Gears of War finalist Lava

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Judy Heflin
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Team: Denial eSports
Gamertag: Lava
Real Name: Chris Anderson

Denial eSports dominated Season 1 of the ESL Gears of War Pro League and are once again headed to the Finals, albeit with a slightly lower seed in Season 2. With the #3 seed, Denial is looking to prove that they are still deserving of the championship title and are confident that with a LAN connection, their team can once again come out on top. In particular, Lava had connection issues playing from his dorm and will come to the offline battles in Boston ready to help prove that Denial are still the best in the league.

ESL: Can you give a brief history of your presence in the Gears of War competitive scene?
Lava: I started playing Gears competitively almost right away, but I got into the franchise late (Winter 2012) a few months into Gears of War 3. I would play hundreds of GB singles matches, starting off terribly with records like 1-7 or 2-8, but eventually getting better and branching out to the other ladders (Doubles and Team). I kept playing Gears of War 3 when others quit, and eventually this lead to me getting picked up by FranCHis, Soto, and Carills for an online tournament sometime in the Winter of 2014. I eventually left them after getting dropped for Praized time and time again to join Kenny, Demo, and Cloutts for the upcoming LAN, Hype WB9 where we placed 2nd. Since the end of GoW3 shortly after, I've been to 4 or 5 different LANs, mostly with my current team.

ESL: What has it been like to play competitively? What are the most interesting things you’ve experienced and things you’ve learned?
Lava: Playing Gears competitively has been a pretty unique experience. I say that because I started later than most and more or less grinded my way to the top. I never expected to be the best or even to make it on a good team, those things just came with the time I put in. One thing I had to learn quickly was not to be easily discouraged and to constantly be looking to better yourself as a player if you are serious about it.

ESL: What is a typical day for you?
Lava: A typical day for me is pretty relaxed, usually with only one or two things to have to do whether that be attending class or going out to get food, whatever. Aside from all of that, I play a few games other than Gears for fun, such as Call of Duty, Halo, NBA 2k16, H1z1, and CS:GO. I typically play these games at least a few hours a day. When I'm not playing something, but I'm home and idle, I'm probably watching Twitch streams or crime TV shows. In preparation for the Season 2 finals, my team usually finds at least two hours five days a week to scrim and I personally play more Gears:UE in general, whether that be public matches or pickup scrims.

ESL: What are the competitive aspects of Gears that you personally are focusing on and trying to improve?
Lava: The competitive aspect I am mainly working to improve on is my communication. I feel like certain aspects of my in-game communication are poor. For example, I may be too quick to call out, "that guy is one shot," or I might yell over the voices of my other teammates.

ESL: What are your goals for your future in gaming and what are you hoping for in terms of the future of competitive Gears of War?
Lava: As far as my future in gaming goes, I hope to one day have some sort of career in the industry. I think it's cool to have a career path doing something that you love. My hope for the future of competitive Gears of War is that we see continued developer support for esports like we have so far from The Coalition and that we receive bigger prize pools in Gears of War 4, maybe there will even be a Gears of War Championships someday.

The Gears of War Pro League Season 2 Finals will happen live at PAX East in Boston on Saturday, April 23 at 11AM EDT. Be sure to stop by the ESL Arena if you’re at PAX East or tune into the Gears of War Twitch channel to watch the top four teams compete for the championship title and a share of the US$60,000 prize pool. Follow the ESL Gears of War Pro League on Facebook and Twitter for all the updates!