You can nominate Gunless or others for the Esports Industry Awards’ Rookie of the Year (Console). Also check out our piece on Shawn Abner as an Unsung Hero candidate.
There’s a reason awards usually separate “Rookie of the Year” from “Player of the Year”.
Those who qualify for the former are worth commending. Rookie players, by definition among the least experienced, at least at the professional level, should be given some concession for their inexperience in judging their performance. They are, for the most part, still learning their trade, and yet some still manage to go toe-to-toe with veterans at the highest level.
The latter reward, however, is reserved for the very best players in the world, those who stood apart from even the other greats of their game. It is an accolade beyond the reach of all but the masters of their craft. For a rookie to even be in the conversation takes someone truly exceptional, an outlier among outliers.
On Infinite Warfare, we’ve been gifted one such player in Pierce ‘Gunless’ Hillman.
Though Gunless’s first event appearances came on Black Ops 3, only those paying the very closest attention would have noticed him. Alongside fellow amateur players, his highlight result came in a top-sixteen finish at the somewhat controversial UMG South Carolina.
From there, he attended a couple more open events, but never troubled pool play or made it much past the open bracket. He was entirely absent from the North American Call of Duty World League and failed to qualify for the Call of Duty Championships. For all intents and purposes, Gunless was just another amateur player.
That changed in Infinite Warfare. Gunless would find a new team for the new game under The GosuCrew, and though his new team-mates were hardly more experienced than himself, with them Gunless broke into the top-twelve for the first time at CWL Vegas, picking up a group stage win over FaZe Clan along the way. At the time, it was the highlight of his career – it wouldn’t be for very long.
Gunless, along with twins Alec ‘Arcitys’ Sanderson and Preston ‘Prestinni’ Sanderson, would join Justin ‘SiLLY’ Fargo on eUnited, and it was this move that truly set up Gunless to become the player he is today. Over the following weeks, eUnited would dominate online, winning multiple 2K Series tournaments in the run-up to CWL Atlanta.
Gunless was already earning a reputation as one of the strongest players in the game, but to live up to that title he’d have to do it on LAN. Many assumed that eUnited would do well, for a team of players for the most part only beginning to
The team topped a group that contained six of the eight 2016 Call of Duty Championships finalists, including the victorious roster of Team EnVyUs. They beat the missing two that remained on Splyce in the first round of bracket play, before taking down two more former World Champions in FaZe Clan.
EnVyUs would await them in the winner bracket final, and once again eUnited dispatched them, this time improving to a 3-0 map count. To top off their run, they defeated Call of Duty’s final boss, and a further two former World Champions, in OpTic Gaming.
Throughout it all, Gunless was perhaps the best player in attendance, a worthy winner of the MVP trophy.
This is what makes Gunless so special, so exceptional. For a rookie to emerge with so much talent that they can exceed the legends of their game is incredibly rare—it’s an origin common only to those who ultimately join that pantheon of gods.