With new games come new challenges, and with new challenges comes new challengers to tackle them. Eric "Snipedown" Wrona is one fifth of the dominating force that is Evil Geniuses. As captain of this back-to-back championship-winning team, we caught up with Eric to get his thoughts as Evil Geniuses heads into this new era of Halo and straight into a global championship with a life-changing sum of money on the line!
ESL: Hey, Eric, and thanks for joining us. It’s been a while since we caught up with you so let’s jump right in! First up: coming off the back of Halo 2: Anniversary (H2A), what are your initial thoughts on Halo 5 from an esports or competitive perspective?
Eric "Snipedown" Wrona: I love the game. There are a lot of neat tricks - jumps, abilities, and weapons - allowing you to outplay and outmatch your opponents. Individual skill hasn't been as important as it is in this Halo in a long, long time.
ESL: You're a two-time back-to-back champion of the Halo Championship Series (HWC) throughout H2A with Evil Geniuses - you guys kind of made that game look easy. Do you feel as confident now considering how you looked back then or is Halo 5 proving not as easy both individually and as a team?
Snipedown: It's definitely a different game, and the pace has changed completely. I can't say I'm as confident as when H2A ended. We had established that dominance by the end of H2A - this is a new game. We didn't start H2A as the best team, and it took a few events before we started blowing teams out to really get our groove. The thing is we definitely still have that teamwork - it's just about learning the game and what works best together now, and that just comes with playing together as much as possible. By the time the HWC comes around, I think we will have had plenty of time to get everything spot on.
ESL: With the World Championship prize pool set at a nice two million dollars and growing by the day, do you expect some new teams to form and step up to the challenge?
Snipedown: If it hasn't already happened, it for sure will. This is life-changing money and friendships mean a lot to people but you need to treat this as a business, and tough decisions need to be made sometimes. I am just very thankful I am on the outside this time around :)
ESL: How do you feel about the phrase "new game, new pros"?
Snipedown: I am a prime example of this back when I made my breakout in Halo 3 and I think it's long overdue to have some more incredible talent added to the HCS. There will 100% be some breakout players this year to make some noise.
ESL: Towards the end of H2A, you had Mikwen hot on your heels for title of the world’s best sniper. Do you feel you can still hold the crown in Halo 5 or could we see a new king under the mountain?
Snipedown: There is always the possibility for someone to be amazing with the sniper, no doubt about that. I have always prided myself more on my positioning with the weapon than my shots. I honestly feel as though Mikwen may have been more dominant with it in terms of the shots he hit, but I always felt I did the most with it in terms of what I did for my team in the process. Example: setting up pushes, or if my teammates die pushing ahead I fall back and hold off the enemy long enough to allow my teammates to push up once again instead of us being pushed back into our base. I think that's what has gotten me that title of best sniper over these years - something I've been very proud to hold onto as a player.
ESL: Who are the teams currently that you as Evil Geniuses look as a major threat, maybe you see anyone as a threat?
Snipedown: I don't like to see teams as a threat, no, but in terms of our toughest competition I would have to say Liquid, CLG and nV, in no particular order. Some awesome team changes have been made and I'm extremely excited to see these squads in action.
ESL: To aspiring players and teams out there wanting to step up to that pro level - what’s the best advice you can give them?
Snipedown: Find a team, find friends who communicate in playlists and just party up. It's definitely not easy to find a team of players you feel comfortable with right away, but nothing comes easy in the gaming world. Playing in tournaments can also help you get your name out there. Not too long ago I played in an FFA online tournament and trust me - I notice quickly when someone has an impressive shot, movement or positioning!
ESL: Could we see any non-NA teams in that final eight on championship Sunday at Worlds? The EU has some particularly strong teams and I'm sure you've seen some.
Snipedown: I do believe that an EU team could 100% make it to the top eight. A lot of the top Halo teams are making the best squads possible. If there are four or five teams with all the best NA players, that leaves three or so spots for the EU to beat out the lesser of the NA teams with. I've seen a few players in the EU I am extremely impressed by - Jimbo, for example - and they can definitely make some noise. It's going to be an incredible year, that's for sure, and I couldn't be any more thankful for all the opportunities.
Thank you, Eric, for joining us and good luck from all of us here as you and Evil Geniuses start your climb - qualification for the Halo World Championship kicks off this month! Registration is now open, and all the latest information about the Halo World Championship can be found at Halo.gg.
Be sure to follow ESL Halo on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest updates, and remember that for a limited time you can grab yourself the Halo 5 HCS REQ Pack! The pack contains HCS-themed weapon skins, armor and emblem and costs US$9.99 or 80,000 REQ Points, with a percentage going towards the event’s prize pool - how far will we go past the current incredible total of US$2,000,000?