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"We need to play the best Halo we've ever played": an interview with Denial's coach Elumnite

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Doug Cortez
Contributing Editor
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Denial Esports made a statement by not only qualifying for the Halo World Championship 2016, but by doing so in dominating fashion with a second place finish at the HaloWC Tour: Columbus. They now head to Hollywood, California to play against fifteen of the best teams from regions around the world, and will attempt to become a part of Halo history. We had the chance to catch up with head coach Marcus “Elumnite” Lovejoy and get a pulse on how the team is doing as they head into the big weekend.

ESL: First, thank you for taking the hot seat.
Elumnite: Thank you for having me! The guys having been working really hard to keep that hot streak going into worlds!

ESL: So, Denial tore through the Halo World Championship Tour: Columbus in commanding fashion. Can you tell me a bit about what that weekend was like for you personally?
Elumnite: It started off really quiet mostly due to the fact that no one had us making it out of our pool A.K.A. (The Pool of Death). I knew going into Columbus that we would make some noise based on the scrims we had prior [to] regionals.

ESL: Not only did you roar out of that aptly named "Group of Death", but you eliminated two of the most historic players in the history of Halo in Pistola and Orge 2. What was that like?
Elumnite: The crazy thing about it is that the team didn't think too much about beating the two players really. They were just another team to us in the way to make worlds. All we wanted to do is win more and that's all.

ESL: That takes a tremendous amount of poise. I'm sure that poise was a contributing factor in how well your team placed (2nd) at the North American regionals. You mentioned that you knew your team was good, but did you realize you were that good?
Elumnite: The team did surprise me a bit I must say. They wanted to prove to themselves and everyone else that they were a team to be very aware in this tournament. All the hard work paid off and it was great to see it in the form of our teamwork and who we beat.

ESL: You have a fairly young team making some big splashes in an even bigger pond. How have you seen yourself improve as a coach throughout this process?
Elumnite: Just the preparations I have been making going into worlds. Really watching how the team can improve in our weak gametypes as well as our strong ones too.

ESL: Speaking of weaker game types, what have you identified as the area of your team's game that needs the most attention?
Elumnite: Just a few Slayer maps and also one or two objective game types as well.

ESL: Coaches have been around Halo for a long time, but some argue that they have never been as important as they are now. Why do you think that is?
Elumnite: It's just people not knowing what a true Halo coach does or should do. A coach shouldn't just be calling out weapon and power-up times. They should have almost just as much Halo IQ as the players in my opinion. A coach should keep the team focused on the objectives at all times in the game. Trust is a big thing too when coaching, because if you call something or tell a teammate to do this or stay alive will they listen to you? I've been a pro Halo player since Halo 3 and I understand how the game is supposed to be played so everyone on the team will listen to the calls I make when I make them.

ESL: It's evident that your knowledge of Halo as a whole has paid dividends on the success of the team. What's it like coaching a young player brimming with talent like Huke?
Elumnite: It's really easy with a young kid like Huke really, He just wants to game and get better, and he is amazing to boot. He is always asking me if there is anything you see me doing wrong let me know and that's the mindset a lot of players that have been around longer don't have. Huke seems to be great at any game he decides to put the time into.

ESL: What are your thoughts on your group draw? You have some talented squads to fight through.
Elumnite: Yeah, I'm really looking forward to playing Immunity and eLevate! We have some good competition going into worlds, but not going to take any of these team lightly at all!
 

ESL: There are a few folks out there that think your performance at Columbus was a fluke, that it won't be replicated. What are you guys doing to ensure that you prove them wrong?
Elumnite: We really don't really focus on what everyone else talks about. They didn't support us from the start so we are just going to play our best Halo going into worlds. We just need to prove to ourselves and that's it.

ESL: Denial was two wins away from beating CLG in the Grand Finals. If you can identify one main thing, what was the reason you ran out of gas at the very end?
Elumnite: I wouldn’t say we ran out of gas or anything like that. CLG is just a great team and they played lights out Halo that weekend have still have been beating everyone in online scrims as well to this day. I would say the main reason was we just got shut down in The Rig Slayer and lost a close game of Strongholds. All in all CLG is the team to beat going into Worlds.

ESL: What will your team have to do in order to avoid another second place finish?
Elumnite: We need to play the best Halo we've ever played to win this tournament and that's all.

ESL: Alright, time for the lightning round. You ready?
Elumnite: Oh snap. Shoot.

ESL: Top three predictions?
Wow, really? Denial, Counter Logic Gaming, Evil Geniuses. This in any order.

ESL: Alright. Bold prediction for the weekend?
Elumnite: This wouldn't be a bold prediction, but others may say it is. No NA team will lose to a team from another region.

ESL: Last question. You're stranded on an island with one teammate and fighting for dear life. Who is it and why?
Elumnite: Contra, kid is savage and will find a way off the island somehow.

ESL: Thanks so much for your time! Any shoutouts or parting words?
Elumnite: Just want to shout out Denial Esports and all the sponsors! My family, my girlfriend Natsumi, and my longtime supporters who have been on my side from day one!

ESL: Thanks again, Elumnite and best of luck to you guys!
Elumnite: Thanks for having me!

Find out more about Denial eSports right here, and make sure to watch all of the action starting this Friday at the Halo World Championship 2016 and follow along with us on Twitter and Facebook.