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“You have to win your gun fights”: an interview with Gears of War finalist CriticalKyle

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Judy Heflin
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Team: Notorious 
Gamertag: CriticalKyle
Real Name: Kyle Mason

CriticalKyle is known for the intense slaying power that he brings to the rebellious squad of Notorious. After breaking away from Strictly Business mid-season, this renegade team of Gears of War powerhouses is hoping to stop frontrunners Team EnVyUs at the Season 2 Finals this Saturday.

ESL: Can you give a brief history of your presence in the Gears of War competitive scene?
CriticalKyle: I have been playing Gears of War competitive ever since GoW1. I would play GameBattle matches day in and day out, until one day I was introduced to MLG events late into Gears of War 2 and went to my first event. Ever since then I have been playing Gears of War more seriously, and will keep grinding until I am considered one of the best.

ESL: What has it been like to play competitively? What are the most interesting things you’ve experienced and things you’ve learned?
CriticalKyle: It has been amazing to play competitively. Over the years competitive gaming has taught me how to work better with people and has also introduced me to really cool people I can call my friends. The most interesting thing I experienced playing competitively has been going to live events. There is absolutely nothing like it, the energy from the crowd while you're playing, seeing your teammates in person, there is no better feeling.

ESL: What is a typical day for you?
CriticalKyle: A typical day for me is waking up, struggling to get out of bed, to finally an hour later finding the inner strength to get up and do school work. After all that hard work, there is no better feeling than stuffing your face with food, and that's what I tend to do. Some say I eat too much, but obviously if you look at me I look like Channing Tatum's twin brother. So after I'm done being fabulous, I try my hardest to go to the gym. If I actually do go, afterwards I'll call my girlfriend, relax until it's time to scrim, eat dinner, scrim, chill with the family, and then go to sleep.

ESL: What are the competitive aspects of Gears that you personally are focusing on and trying to improve?
CriticalKyle: I try every day to get better individually, because at the end of the day you have to win your gun fights. But a main thing I have been working on is trying to be a better teammate, and communicating better in game. I think those three things are key to being successful in any competitive game.

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?
CriticalKyle: My goal for gaming is to be the best. Not many people can say they were the best at something, and I strive to make that come true. I also would love to make a living off of gaming, but that's more of a dream than a goal, which leads into the next question. For Gears of War 4 competitive, I'm hoping for complete dev support. There is nothing like it when a developer teams up with the people that are the best at the game. I'm hoping for large tournaments, a Pro League, and open LANs. If we have a steady rate of events for new viewers to watch a couple weeks/months after release, I'm sure that we could surprise a lot of people with the numbers we pull in.

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!